Wed 19 Jan 2022 06:45:01 AM EST

News

LaPresse.ca - Actualités

Items count = 10

1/10 - Conditions océanographiques | Le golfe du Saint-Laurent a eu chaud en 2021

L’année 2021 est la deuxième des plus chaudes jamais enregistrées dans le golfe du Saint-Laurent, qui a vu les anomalies climatiques se multiplier.


2/10 - Le bonheur et les vraies affaires

La citation avait suscité les moqueries.


3/10 - Parrainage collectif des personnes réfugiées à l’étranger | Québec fait un grand ménage parmi les organismes

Depuis mardi, l’organisme dirigé par Carolina Manganelli, Action Réfugiés Montréal, peut de nouveau présenter des dossiers de parrainage au ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI). Ce n’est pas le cas de 18 autres organisations mises sur une liste noire par Québec pour avoir « fourni un renseignement ou un document faux ou trompeur ».


4/10 - Parc Michel-Chartrand | Des opposants nourrissent les cerfs illégalement

La pratique est interdite, mais la Ville de Longueuil a elle-même nourri les cerfs du parc Michel-Chartrand pendant plusieurs années tout en tolérant que le public en fasse autant, contribuant du même coup à l’agrandissement du cheptel. Des opposants à l’abattage des bêtes, prévu prochainement, vont maintenant les nourrir la nuit tombée, a pu constater La Presse au cours des derniers jours.


5/10 - Rassemblement contre les mesures sanitaires | Un quatrième policier dans l’embarras

Un policier montréalais se retrouve dans le collimateur pour avoir participé à un évènement contre les mesures sanitaires en compagnie de collègues de la Sûreté du Québec.


6/10 - Agences de placement et soins à domicile | « Dépendance structurelle extrêmement forte », selon l’IRIS

Le réseau de la santé souffre d’une « dépendance structurelle extrêmement forte » aux agences de placement de main-d’œuvre, particulièrement dans l’offre de soins à domicile, conclut l’Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS), dans une nouvelle étude. Québec devra revoir « complètement son modèle » s’il veut atteindre ses cibles et faire des soins à domicile une priorité.


7/10 - Doit-on être rassuré ?

Il y a deux façons de voir le plan de priorisation de la gestion des hospitalisations présenté mardi par le ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux : soit on se dit qu’on est vraiment en période de guerre, soit on se dit qu’on prend réellement les choses en main.


8/10 - Retour en classe | Une rentrée dans la joie et l’inquiétude

Après des vacances prolongées par Omicron, puis par un jour de tempête, les enfants étaient heureux de rentrer en classe. Les professeurs, eux, étaient à la fois ravis de les revoir et inquiets du risque d’infection. Quant au gouvernement Legault, il a dénoncé les mouvements de contestation lancés par des syndicats.


9/10 - Soutien militaire | Le Canada n’a pas encore pris de décision, affirme Mélanie Joly en Ukraine

La ministre des Affaires étrangères Mélanie Joly affirme que le Canada n’a pas encore décidé s’il allait fournir des armes à l’Ukraine, même si son allié de l’OTAN, le Royaume-Uni, a confirmé lundi qu’il procurerait des armes antichars aux forces ukrainiennes.


10/10 - Un organisme complotiste d’aide aux sans-abri dérange

Ses bénévoles refusent de porter le masque


News

CBC | Top Stories News

Items count = 20

1/20 - Ex-employees ask how convicted fraudster obtained pandemic support while their wages went unpaid

Hayley O'Brien Rob Roche complaint

More than a dozen former employees of Toronto businessman and convicted fraudster Rob Roche have filed complaints over unpaid wages at his PPE supply company, raising questions about how his firms managed to obtain government pandemic support.


2/20 - This Ontario student waited years for justice. Now, the accused in her sex assault case won't face trial

Rebecca Crane

Rebecca Crane's 2014 sexual assault case was thrown out recently because it was taking too long to get to court. Now, the 29-year-old university student in London, Ont., blames the Crown for the 30-month delay that allowed the accused to file an application under the Supreme Court's so-called Jordan decision.


3/20 - Here's what you need to know about 4th doses of COVID vaccine

Virus Outbreak Israel


4/20 - This journalist says Canada saved him. Now he's saving a 136-year-old Ontario newspaper

Tilbury Times publisher Mohsin Abbas stands at entrance to town

Journalist Mohsin Abbas heard about the closure of the local newspaper in Tilbury, Ont., from a CBC Radio special over the holidays. He decided to revive it.


5/20 - Airlines worldwide rush to change flights over U.S. 5G dispute

5G Airlines

Airlines across the world, including the long-haul carrier Emirates, rushed Wednesday to cancel or change flights heading into the U.S. over an ongoing dispute about the rollout of 5G mobile phone technology near American airports.


6/20 - They're known for having sheltered Edward Snowden. Now settled in Montreal, this family looks to the future

Edward Snowden's guardian angels

It's been four months since the family that helped shelter whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong arrived in Montreal after Canada granted them asylum. Now, they're embracing the frosty weather and their new life.


7/20 - Jagmeet Singh and his wife have 'realized their error,' will pay for $1,895 rocking chair gift

Jagmeet Singh

The NDP says it is working with the ethics commissioner and intends to file a formal disclosure report on a $1,895 rocking chair that was given to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s wife in exchange for posting about the item on her Instagram account.


8/20 - Canada terminates $222M PPE contract following forced labour probe

COVID Sask 20210415

Public Services and Procurement Canada has terminated two supply contracts with Supermax Healthcare Canada following allegations that the nitrile gloves it manufactured in Malaysia for use by Canadian health care workers were made with forced labour.


9/20 - Cannabis vs. COVID: What the research is showing

Cannabis vs. COVID: What the research is showing

A study last week from two Oregon universities has generated a lot of buzz, after findings suggested that some cannabis compounds may be able to block the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering human cells. It adds to a growing body of research on cannabis and the coronavirus, as studies from around the world — including from Canada — have found that the cannabis compound CBD may be effective in helping treat some of the virus’s most deadly symptoms. Today, Katie MacBride, a health science reporter at the online magazine Inverse, joins us for a deep dive into what the research says — and doesn’t say — about cannabis and COVID-19.


10/20 - André Leon Talley, former editor at large at U.S. Vogue, dead at 73

1056595504

André Leon Talley, the towering former creative director and editor at large of Vogue magazine, has died. He was 73.


11/20 - As invasion threat looms, Ukraine asks for weapons — and Canada makes evacuation plans

Russia Ukraine

Canada faced stepped-up pressure Tuesday to match U.S. and United Kingdom shipments of defensive weapons to Ukraine as the possibility of a Russian invasion continues to hang over eastern Europe.


12/20 - No evidence of bomb threat Belarus used to justify diverting airliner, UN agency says

Lituania Belarus Opposition

Belarus has failed to produce any evidence of a bomb threat that was used to justify the diversion of an airliner to Minsk — and which led to the arrest of a dissident journalist — according to UN investigators.


13/20 - Toronto digs out: Cleanup from Monday's major snowstorm may take days, residents warned

JAN 18 ONT SNOW STORM TORONTO

The Toronto area is digging itself out after a major snowstorm that crippled roadways and delayed the much-anticipated return to in-person schooling Monday, but it may still be several days before things are cleaned up.


14/20 - Quadriga CEO's widow speaks out over his death and the missing crypto millions

jennifer roberston Gerald Cotten quadriga wedding

Gerald Cotten died suddenly in 2018 and took keys to $250 million in cryptocurrency assets to his grave. After his death, investigators discovered he used the money as his own personal slush fund.


15/20 - Rudy Giuliani, other Trump allies subpoenaed by U.S. House panel investigating Jan. 6

Giuliani Investigation

The U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the Capitol insurrection issued a new batch of subpoenas Tuesday to some of Donald Trump's closest advisers, including Rudy Giuliani, as the committee inches closer to the former president.


16/20 - Carol Off stepping down as host of CBC Radio's As It Happens

Carol Off

Veteran CBC journalist Carol Off is stepping down as host of As It Happens, CBC Radio's flagship evening current affairs show, after nearly 16 years of interviews marked by both doggedness and empathy.


17/20 - U.S. telecoms delay 5G rollout after airlines' concerns. Here's what Canada is doing

USA-AVIATION/5G

AT&T and Verizon will delay launching new wireless service near key airports planned for this week after the largest U.S. airlines said the service would interfere with aircraft technology and cause massive flight disruptions. Meanwhile, 5G services are restricted near Canadian airports.


18/20 - Pfizer's COVID-19 pill could have real impact in Canada — if we can roll it out fast enough

Pfizer Medication

Canada has approved a new treatment for COVID-19, but will provinces and territories be able to get the drug out rapidly to vulnerable Canadians to help ease the pressure on hospitals until current COVID-19 levels subside?


19/20 - Willie O'Ree, first Black player in the NHL, has number retired by Boston Bruins

oree-willie-bruins-170622-1180

A New Brunswick hockey legend was honoured once again Tuesday evening when his number was retired by the team with which he made history. Willie O'Ree was the first Black player in the National Hockey League.


20/20 - 3 dead, many homes destroyed — but Tonga escapes worst-case volcano eruption aftermath

Tonga Volcano Eruption

Despite sitting almost on top of the volcano that erupted so violently on Saturday, the Pacific nation of Tonga appears to have avoided the widespread devastation that many initially feared.


News

Lifehacker

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1/25 - 15 iPhone Apps Every Tween Needs

Kids and their devices, am I right? Parents are constantly worrying about whether and how to limit screen time. But maybe we need to accept the inevitable—it’s really hard to keep them off of their phones, especially when we are always glued to own own, whether through necessity (for work) or due to our own bad habits…

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2/25 - What You Need to Know Before You Pick Up a Barbell for the First Time

So you survived your first day at the gym and you’re ready for the next step—or maybe you’ve mastered the dumbbells and machines but never quite figured out what to do with barbells. Either way, here are all the basic things you’ll need to know on your first day working with barbells.

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3/25 - I Will Never Put Tomatoes in the Fridge

It is not tomato season. Unless you are in the southern hemisphere, you have absolutely no business buying beefsteak tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, or really any tomato other than the little bitty ones. I know you can acquire Vine Ripe and Roma tomatoes with ease during the winter months, but let’s be real: They suck.

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4/25 - You Can Finally Connect to Your VPN on Windows Again

If you installed the latest Windows Server update last week, you might have noticed something frustrating—your VPN wouldn’t connect to Windows. The issue mainly targets the Windows VPN client, but that affects multiple VPN devices, like SonicWall, WatchGuard Firewalls, and Cisco Meraki. If you uninstalled these…

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5/25 - Secret Ways to Reach an Actual Person in Customer Service

In a world that seems increasingly determined to keep us apart, we’re all bound together by at least one universal experience: the frustration of talking to a real person on the phone at a customer service call center. Whether we want to complain, resolve a problem, or simply get information, call center interactions…

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6/25 - How to Replace Your Mac’s Screenshot Tool With Something Better

Your Mac’s standard screenshot tool includes the basic features most people need to capture images displayed on their screens, but it could be better. It doesn’t allow you to take scrolling screenshots (where you capture a long screenshot of an entire webpage), and other tools—including the two discussed below—are…

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7/25 - Why It’s Probably Time to Buy a New Mattress

Considering that we spend up to 36 years of our lives in our beds (either sleeping, watching TV, or trying to get to sleep), our mattresses are important. But since they’re also large, expensive, and obscured by so many linens, it’s not always obvious when we should replace them (and given the investment, it’s not…

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8/25 - How to Get a Refund on a 'Nonrefundable' Hotel Reservation

Back in the spring and summer of 2020, travel came with unprecedented flexibility. Flights, car rental reservations, and hotel bookings could be cancelled at the last minute, change fees were mostly eliminated, and airlines blocked middle seats.

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9/25 - The Best Way to Factory-Reset Your Apple Watch

If your Apple Watch is on its way out, there’s one last thing you need to do before selling or exchanging it: Completely wipe it clean so all your personal data is removed.

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10/25 - Everything You Need to Know Before Buying Cannabis Concentrates

If you don’t live in a traditional growing region, access to fresh weed flowers is yet another modern luxury. Like any other agricultural output, cannabis flower has a shelf life, which explains why, throughout its long, long history, the drug has often been often consumed in its super potent (and super shelf stable)…

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11/25 - How to Order Good Wine at a Restaurant Without Sounding Like a Moron

We’ve all been there: You head out to a nice restaurant with some friends, settle into your chairs in anticipation...and then the wine list drops in front of you, and suddenly you’re living that dream where you show up for your algebra test naked and everyone laughs at you.

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12/25 - Those Apps You ‘Deleted’ on Your Mac Might Still Be Hanging Around

Windows has a dedicated section for uninstalling apps, but Mac doesn’t. It’s supposed to be simpler on the Mac—you delete an app just like a file by dragging it to the Trash, then emptying the Trash. That works fine for many apps, but some are more difficult to uninstall because they leave their mark across multiple…

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13/25 - How to Get Your Free At-Home COVID Tests From the U.S. Government

When the plan to provide free at-home COVID tests was announced in December, it looked pretty underwhelming—tests would be reimbursable by insurance, and free tests would be available at some community centers. Fortunately, the plan is now being rolled out, with an important addition: You can request free tests from a…

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14/25 - How to Watch Asteroid 1994 PC1 Hurtle Past Earth Today

This evening, a huge asteroid known as 7482 (1994 PC1) will make its closest approach to us Earthlings for the next 200 years. It’ll pass us by at a cool 47,344 miles per hour, so you don’t want to miss your chance to catch a glimpse. Here’s how you can get a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of this space event, plus all…

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15/25 - How to Recover From Chronic Sleep Deprivation

Although the recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours a night, more than one-third of Americans get less than seven hours a night, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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16/25 - What to Use If You Run Out of Cornmeal When You’re Baking Bread

Remember that love affair we had with sourdough bread? It was an unusual moment in the sun for yeast. Some folks had extended, public bread-romances on social media, while others had short trysts that wielded little more than a dead starter, graying in the fridge. If you actually got to the baking stage, you probably…

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17/25 - You Can Overcome Your Empty Grocery Store

If you’ve been to a grocery store recently, you may have noticed: It’s March 2020 all over again. At least it looks that way, or perhaps worse. With severe winter weather, cumulative supply chain disruptions, and ongoing staffing shortages due to a steep rise in COVID cases, stock of certain items at grocery stores…

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18/25 - ‘FDA Cleared’ Is Not the Same As ‘FDA Approved’ (and Why the Difference Matters)

Companies love to bend the truth to make it seem like their product is better than it is—and one way they do this with certain medical products is by making it sound like the FDA had a major role in bringing it to market. But if a health-related gadget is “FDA cleared,” that doesn’t necessarily mean the FDA studied it…

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19/25 - How to Beat Social Media Algorithms (and Why You Should Try)

Social media platforms from TikTok to Twitter charge you nothing to use their services, except for, well, everything there is to know about you. Part of the strategy in that data collection comes from algorithms, which decide what kind of content to show you based on your past usage. Don’t make their data harvesting…

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20/25 - How to Tell When You're Struggling With Repressed Anger

We’re not even three weeks into 2022, but there’s already plenty to be angry about. In fact, that’s been the case for a long time now—especially during the last two years of living through a global pandemic.

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21/25 - How to Make Home Buying Better, Without Being Rich

Buying a home is always stressful. Whether it’s your first home and you spent the last decade eating wish sandwiches in order to cobble together the down payment or a dream retirement house, the process is a rollercoaster ride of surprise costs, stressful road bumps, and endless paperwork (somehow still involving the…

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22/25 - How to Write the Perfect Personal Letter

It’s cliche to say that letter-writing is a “lost art,” but try to think of the last time you sat down and wrote a personal letter. Nothing to do with business or networking—an actual letter to another person in your life for the purpose of communicating information, messages, and checking in. For most of us, it’s…

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23/25 - You Can Now 'Repost' on TikTok (Maybe)

TikTok is getting a new feature that looks a bit like one we’re all familiar with. The “retweet” feature has been a staple of Twitter since the button was added in 2009. Now, TikTok is beta testing a new “repost” feature that many are calling the app’s retweet.

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24/25 - Is VR Gaming Bad for Your Health?

Virtual reality gaming is seeing a spike in popularity right now—but some experts and industry observers are concerned that frequent use of the technology may come with some health risks, including eyestrain, migraines, and falls. Here is what we know so far about the safety of VR, and the potential health…

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25/25 - How to Get Excited About Cooking Again

I’m not sure if anyone made resolutions this year. The source of most people’s problems are not tied to anything they can change with enough resolve. One cannot resolve their way out of a pandemic, or resolve their child into a safe learning environment, especially when our governing body is more interested in…

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News

Gizmodo

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1/25 - White House to Make 400 Million N95 Masks Available Free in Another Policy Reversal

Roughly 400 million high-quality N95 masks will be made available to Americans for free from the Strategic National Stockpile, according to an announcement from the White House picked up by countless news outlets early Wednesday. And while that’s great news, the question remains: Why did it take so long?

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2/25 - Charisma Carpenter Doesn't Appreciate Recent Comments by Joss Whedon

Former Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel star Charisma Carpenter has responded to recent comments from the creator of those shows, Joss Whedon. And she doesn’t seem too happy.

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3/25 - These 5,000-Year-Old Drinking Straws Were Used to Sip Beer, Researchers Say

A set of gold and silver tubes found 125 years ago in the northern Caucasus are likely drinking straws, not scepters, according to a re-analysis of the ancient artifacts.

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4/25 - Your Moon Knight Questions, Answered

Last night, Marvel Studios properly lifted the lid on its next Disney+ streaming series, Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac as the titular avatar of moonlit justice. But the character of Moon Knight is arguably perhaps one of the more esoteric of the heroes coming in the studio’s slate this year—and with a very…

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5/25 - The 2022 Olympics App All Attendees Must Download Is a Security Nightmare, Researchers Find

An app that visitors to the 2022 Olympics Games in Beijing are obligated to download is also a cybersecurity nightmare that threatens to expose much of the data that it collects, according to a new report.

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6/25 - Google Assistant Changed Its White Noise Sound and People Are Pissed [Update: It's Fixed]

Google has reportedly changed Google Assistant’s white noise audio track, and folks who rely on it to fall asleep are extremely unhappy about it.

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7/25 - Autopilot Crash Results In Felony Charges for Tesla Driver, a First for Driver-Assistance Tech

California prosecutors have issued the first felony charge for a person using Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance feature. Two counts of vehicular manslaughter were levied against the driver who allegedly had Autopilot engaged when his vehicle ran a red light and killed two people in 2019. The charges, first reported…

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8/25 - Taika Waititi's Pirate Comedy Series Drops a Swashbuckling First Trailer

Vampires, werewolves, rock bands, superheroes, even Nazis. Taika Waititi has made all of them funny. And next he’ll try and do it so on the seven seas with a very offbeat band of pirates.

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9/25 - Intel Is Apparently Making a Bitcoin-Mining Chip to Save GPUs for Gamers

Crypto mining is loathed by gamers and anyone who cares about the environment, but that isn’t stopping Intel from getting into the bitcoin-harvesting business.

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10/25 - Many Fish Oil Supplements Are Rancid, Report Finds

People’s fish oil supplements may be even fishier than they’d want them to be, according to a new report from independent testing company Labdoor. The company claims to have found that a substantial number of supplements sold on the market are heavy in oxidized oils, which can make them taste rancid and smell rotten,…

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11/25 - Star Trek Just Set Its 'All Trek, All the Time' Schedule for 2022

If you thought 2020's 23-week-run of Lower Decks into Discovery was a considerable amount of Star Trek to consume, well, 2022 is looking like it’s going to dunk your head into a holodeck and not let go for quite some time.

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12/25 - Raising Dion's Season 2 Trailer Has Lots More Super-Powered Kid Action

Netflix rolls out many new shows on what feels like a daily basis, there’s always a chance one or two fall through the cracks. For example, maybe you didn’t know that Michael B. Jordan is among the executive producers on a show called Raising Dion, about single mother Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) and her young son, 

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13/25 - Following Record Year for Mergers, the FTC Wants to Know How You'd Fix Antitrust

The first few months of Joe Biden’s presidency were marked by the recruiting of what some called an “Antitrust All-Star Team.” Spearheaded by dogged Amazon critic Lina Khan, antitrust scribe Tim Wu, and longtime Google annoyance Jonathan Kanter, that dream team has little to show for itself, so far. Despite plenty of…

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14/25 - The Boys' Animated Spinoff Is Coming Sooner Than You Think and Is Exactly as Violent as You'd Expect

It was only a bit over a month ago that Amazon announced that its hit The Boys was got to get an animated spinoff titled Diabolical, which was going to be an animated anthology of short cartoons set in the Boys-iverse. Now, Diabolical has a (very close!) release date and a first look at the series in action, and...…

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15/25 - Airline CEOs Warn of Unprecedented 'Chaos' Tied to This Week's 5G Rollout

For weeks, airlines have been cautioning authorities over the delays and disruptions that would happen in the wake of telco companies’ planned rollout of 5G technology, and things are getting serious. On Monday, the CEOs of several transportation giants like Delta, JetBlue, and American Airlines warned transportation…

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16/25 - West Virginia Starts New Fake Culture War Against Blackrock

West Virginia won’t use BlackRock’s investment funds any longer as part of its banking transactions, positioning itself as defending poor, defenseless American fossil fuel companies. The boycott is based on BlackRock’s recent public statements on climate—but ignores the realities of where the financial giant is…

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17/25 - Microsoft’s Buying Activision Blizzard—Now What?

Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard in a landmark deal worth $68.7 billion. The purchase, should it go through, will reshape the gaming industry and potentially catapult Microsoft’s Xbox gaming division and Game Pass subscription service.

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18/25 - In Severance, Memory Is Company Property

Between the never-ending pandemic, systemic wage inequality, and constant management nightmares, real-life work has never felt so dystopian. But Ben Stiller’s new Apple TV+ series, Severance, takes things to another level by having Adam Scott undergo a very strange procedure: to have two wholly separate sets of…

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19/25 - A Star Trek: Voyager Fan Built a Replica Tricorder That's Better Than Any Prop Hollywood Has Ever Made

Despite the show’s finale airing almost 20 years ag,o the technology in Star Trek: Voyager (and even TNG) still looks convincingly futuristic, and we’d happily trade our folding smartphones like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or the Surface Duo 2 for this incredible recreation of one of Voyager’s tricorders.

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20/25 - Man's Penis Fills With Foam After DIY Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Goes Wrong

A man and his partner’s attempt at a treatment for erectile dysfunction went disastrously wrong, according to his doctors. In a recent case report, they detail how his partner accidentally shot insulation foam into the man’s penis and bladder while a straw connected to the spray had been inserted into his urethra.…

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21/25 - These Monster Mash-Up Baseball Cards Are Freaking Incredible

We’re willing to bet that whether or not you think baseball, or baseball cards, are cool, you probably think monsters are cool. Who doesn’t think monsters are cool? And if an artist took a bunch of famous baseball players and illustrated them as really awesome, creepy, scary monsters to put on baseball cards, well,…

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22/25 - Tonga Is Covered in Ash and in Crisis After Massive Volcanic Eruption

The world stood aghast in slack-jawed horror over the weekend after watching satellite images of a volcano violently erupting in the small island nation of Tonga. Officials are only now getting a handle on the damage and humanitarian risks of what authorities are calling an “unprecedented disaster.”

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23/25 - A Huge Asteroid Is Flying by Earth Today: How to Watch and What to Know

An asteroid measuring nine football fields long is zipping past our planet today. Here’s what you need to know about this near Earth object and why there’s nothing to worry about.

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24/25 - The Cuphead Show's First Trailer Runneth Over

Making an animated TV show about characters from a video game that was inspired wholly from classic animation seems feels like a bit of an ouroboros, or a snake eating its own tail. But is that really a problem when Netflix’s upcoming The Cuphead Show looks so good and fun? I think not.

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25/25 - NASA Has a Plan to Dislodge the Pebbles Stuck in Perseverance Rover

NASA engineers have executed a plan to clear the Perseverance rover of some debris that has prevented it from properly caching rock samples. The team expects to find out how the clean-up mission went later today.

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News

io9 | Gizmodo

Items count = 25

1/25 - Charisma Carpenter Doesn't Appreciate Recent Comments by Joss Whedon

Charisma Carpenter at NYCC 2019.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for ReedPOP (Getty Images)

Former Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel star Charisma Carpenter has responded to recent comments from the creator of those shows, Joss Whedon. And she doesn’t seem too happy.

Last year Carpenter took to social media to detail the verbal and mental abuse she endured from Whedon while working for him. The accusations, coupled with similar accusations from Justice League star Ray Fisher, led to several of her co-stars and colleagues bolstering the remarks and Whedon being removed from projects he was working on at the time. Then, this week, New York Magazine released an extensive interview with Whedon where the writer-director responded to Carpenter’s claims.

When asked about comments Carpenter said he made in regards to her weight and pregnancy, Whedon said he was “not mannerly” but “did not call her fat.” He added, “Most of my experiences with Charisma were delightful and charming. She struggled sometimes with her lines, but nobody could hit a punch line harder than her.” The interview also featured Whedon responding to Fisher’s accusations of racism and Gal Gadot’s stories of Whedon being insulting and dismissive during Justice League reshoots; Whedon called Fisher a bad actor and said Gadot must have misunderstood his remarks due to a language barrier.

Carpenter responded to all of this with a tone that said almost more than the words themselves.

Carpenter went on to also talk about addiction and said that it’s never too late to try and get better—which makes you think she’d almost be forgiving if her “former tyrannical narcissistic boss” would “be accountable and just apologize,” which Whedon has yet to do.

Subsequently, Fisher responded to Carpenter’s tweets in kind and took issue with the article suggesting he was not speaking on his own behalf and was only doing so to help Zack Snyder—the Justice League director Whedon replaced after Snyder left the film following a family tragedy.

This is a messy situation all around but there’s little doubt that Whedon’s lack of accountability and attempts to find fault in his accusers’ stories might be even worse than some of the accusations.


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2/25 - Your Moon Knight Questions, Answered

In the name of the moon, they’ll punish you!
Image: Marvel Studios, Gil Kane and Al Milgrom/Marvel Comics

Last night, Marvel Studios properly lifted the lid on its next Disney+ streaming series, Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac as the titular avatar of moonlit justice. But the character of Moon Knight is arguably perhaps one of the more esoteric of the heroes coming in the studio’s slate this year—and with a very mysterious trailer like the one we got, you might have some questions. We’re here to help.

Who Is Moon Knight?

First introduced in the pages of Werewolf by Night #32 in 1975, Marc Spector, already the Moon Knight, was a mercenary tasked with capturing the titular lupine protagonist of the book by a villainous group called the Committee. Although his first appearance was distinctly antagonistic, Marc quickly teams up with Werewolf by Night and is reframed as more of a dark, but still noble hero. He’d have several appearances as a guest star in series like Marvel Two-In-One and The Defenders for several years, but it wouldn’t be until 1980 that Moon Knight got his own solo series, from Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz, that would largely flesh out the framework for Marc’s origin as the hero.

That series established that before becoming Moon Knight, Marc was a former Marine who became a mercenary after being discharged from the military. Teaming up with the villainous mercenary Bushman, Marc is eventually betrayed and left for dead on a mission in the Sudan when he tries to stop Bushman from looting an ancient tomb and killing a team of archaeologists investigating it. Barely making his way back to civilization, locals take the near-dead Marc to a temple of the Egyptian moon god and purported protector of night travellers, Khonshu, where he succumbs to his wounds... only to miraculously be reborn, declaring that Khonshu not only saved his life, but has made him an avatar of his will as the Moon Knight.

Why Is Oscar Isaac Using... That Accent?

Image: Bill Sienkiewicz, Frank Springer, Bob Sharen, and Tom Orzechowski/Marvel Comics

When Marc’s backstory was first fleshed out—in ways that only further made audiences draw parallels between the character and DC’s Batman—he adopted different identities to obfuscate anyone seeking to track down the identity of Moon Knight. There’s still Marc Spector the mercenary, but there’s also Steven Grant, a Wall Street speculator and businessman who takes Marc’s savings and turns them into millions, in order to fund his vigilantism. We see an alternate iteration of this in the Moon Knight trailer, where Steven isn’t a billionaire, but a shy, British museum gift shop employee. Not glimpsed, however, is a third identity: Jake Lockley, a down-to-earth taxi driver that Marc adopts in order to glean information from the streets. In later stories, he would add a fourth, simply known as Mr. Knight, an alternate, business-suit wearing iteration of Moon Knight who worked as a police consultant.

Originally, these were simply personae that Marc adopted interchangeably depending on what needed doing. But the miniseries Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu by Alan Zelenetz and Chris Warner in 1985 retconned these identities as alternate personalities, establishing that Marc suffered from dissociative identity disorder. The illness was brought on by the stress of both Khonshu establishing a psychic connection with him as a child, and a traumatic childhood experience uncovering that a rabbi with close ties to Marc’s own rabbi father, Elias, was actually secretly a Nazi serial killer targeting Jews. Ever since, Marc’s struggles with his mental health—as well as being unable to perceive whether or not Khonshu is actually real or just another personality in his mind—have been a foundational aspect of the character, as they appear to be in the upcoming show.

As for the accent Isaac uses in the Steven persona... have you heard British people before? They’re very silly.

What Powers Does Moon Knight Have?

Image: Marvel Studios

Just as with the the back-and-forth of whether or not Marc believes that Khonshu is another aspect of his mental health issues or he really is the fist of an ancient Egyptian moon deity, the hero’s abilities have waxed and waned. Aside from the ability for Khonshu to resurrect Marc after suffering mortal wounds, in some iterations, Khonshu’s spirit grants Marc enhanced strength and durability based on the cycle of the moon, as well as a level of protection against psychic manipulation and occasionally prophetic visions. Khonshu has also previously given Marc blessed weapons and equipment, including an ankh that glows in the presence of mortal danger, a protective boomerang, as well as throwing darts, knives, and equipment to grapple and lasso his way around town.

In others, Marc has been powerless, using silver-coated weapons designed by himself (including the crescent darts seen in the show’s poster), and largely relies on his training as a former marine and expert boxer, an athlete at the peak of human strength and agility that also happens to be a skilled pilot and driver, as well as trained in long and close range combat in a variety of styles. It seems the show will at least draw on both Marc’s background and a supernatural element—several times we see the Marc persona emerge in a violent situation in the trailer, and there’s one shot of the Moon Knight suit itself magically wrapping itself around him, so there’s at least some element of superhuman ability at play.

Who’s Ethan Hawke Playing?

Image: Marvel Studios, Chris Warner, E.R. Cruz, and Christie Scheele/Marvel Comics

Hawke’s character—who we only know is going to be an antagonist in the series—is left unnamed for his brief appearance in the trailer, outside of an ominous warning telling Marc to “Embrace the Chaos.” But closed captioning confirms the character’s name as Arthur Harrow, a very obscure Marvel pull.

Harrow has appeared in a single comic so far—the second issue of the aforementioned Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu miniseries in 1985. A doctor specializing in pain theory, Harrow suffered from Trigeminal Neuralgia, paralyzing the left side of his face and leaving him in constant pain. When it was discovered that Harrow was secretly experimenting on human test subjects in order to try and find a cure for his illness, desensitizing them to any level of horrific pain, Moon Knight tried to stop Harrow, but the scientist escaped, never to be seen again. Just how much of this background will be used in the show however, remains to be seen—Moon Knight could simply be using Harrow’s name on an entirely different interpretation of the character, which wouldn’t be a first for the MCU.

What Does Moon Knight Actually Do?

Image: Steve Mcniven/Marvel Comics

He’s... well, as previously stated, he’s basically Marvel’s answer to Batman. A night time defender of the weak and a vengeful warrior who relies on fear and intimidation, Moon Knight has long been one of the publisher’s most famous and darkest “street-level” heroes. But both in the comics and potentially in the MCU itself, Moon Knight represents a connection between that largely-grounded area of superheroics—in so much as anything in comics can be largely-grounded—and the supernatural Marvel universe.

Moon Knight has been a member of the Defenders, an occasional Avenger, and part of smaller groups like the Marvel Knights or the Midnight Sons—and as the MCU looks to flesh out this smaller-scale sided of its universe going forward, Moon Knight as a character is a chance to link that world to the supernatural and magical elements we’ve recently been seeing played with in WandaVision or the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (which will debut just after Moon Knight begins streaming). Plus, given the horror-tinged tone being explored with Isaac’s Spector, it’s an opportunity to provided a different lens on that mystical, magical corner of the MCU... with a lot more bloody fist fights along the way.

Moon Knight begins streaming on Disney+ starting March 30.


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3/25 - Taika Waititi's Pirate Comedy Series Drops a Swashbuckling First Trailer

Rhys Darby stars in the latest show from Taika Waititi, Our Flag Means Death.
Screenshot: HBO Max/YouTube

Vampires, werewolves, rock bands, superheroes, even Nazis. Taika Waititi has made all of them funny. And next he’ll try and do it so on the seven seas with a very offbeat band of pirates.

The show is called Our Flag Means Death and it’s coming to HBO Max in March. It’s created and showrun by David Jenkins, but Waititi is on board as an executive producer as well as the director of the pilot. It stars Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords, Jumanji) as Stede Bonnet, “a pampered aristocrat who abandoned his life of privilege to become a pirate.” The trailer also reveals a peek at Waititi’s co-starring turn as the evil pirate Blackbeard, as well as a look at other co-stars like Kristian Nairn (Hodor from Game of Thrones), Joel Fry (Jasper from Cruella), Nat Faxon (Reno 911), Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters), and several other very recognizable actors. Check it out.

Showrunner Jenkins is best known for the 2016 TBS show People of Earth and this certainly looks like it has the fish out of water feel of that show, with the oddball irreverence of Waititi’s work like What We Do in the Shadows, Flight of the Conchords, Thor: Ragnarok, and Jojo Rabbit. And that cast is just pulled from every amazing supporting role in genre we’ve seen in years.

And you might not believe it but the story of Stede Bonnet is a true one. This show is described as “loosely based” on it, which basically means the concept of a wealthy man kind of real-life cosplaying as a pirate is just being mined for as much wild humor as possible.

“A series concept like this jumps off the page and you can instantly envision every moment,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max said when the show was first announced. “David and Taika’s unique take on Bonnet’s rollicking misadventures on the high seas are sure to thrill and delight audiences everywhere.”

We’ve only seen the trailer but we tend to agree. Will it be up to the quality of a What We Do In the Shadows? Time will tell. But even a fraction of that will make it a show worth checking out. It arrives on HBO Max in March.


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4/25 - Star Trek Just Set Its 'All Trek, All the Time' Schedule for 2022

You’re going to be trekkin’ a LOT this year.
Image: Paramount+

If you thought 2020's 23-week-run of Lower Decks into Discovery was a considerable amount of Star Trek to consume, well, 2022 is looking like it’s going to dunk your head into a holodeck and not let go for quite some time.

Today Paramount+ announced a swath of new premiere dates and renewals throughout 2022 for every current ongoing Star Trek series on the platform, including live action and animation. The slate, beginning with this month’s return of Star Trek: Prodigy and next month’s return for Star Trek: Discovery season four, essentially lays out the groundwork for a new episode of Star Trek dropping every Thursday on the platform from now until middle of July... and perhaps more Star Trek even beyond that. You know, as a treat.

Things kick off with the aforementioned returns of Prodigy and Discovery. The next batch of Prodigy episodes began on January 6, and will wrap up with the 10th and final episode of season one on February 3. That’s just in time for the previously announced February 10 return of Discovery season four, which will air its five remaining episodes weekly.

That means there’ll actually be some Trek overlap, as Star Trek: Picard has been given a March 3 premiere date for its 10-episode second season—meaning Discovery and Picard will air together for three weeks. As Picard wraps up, Star Trek: Strange New Worldsthe Discovery spinoff that, thanks to timeline shenanigans, is both a sequel and a prequel, following Captain Pike and the crew of the pre-Kirk U.S.S. Enterprise after the events of Discovery’s second season—will begin its debut season on May 5.

It’s... a lot of Star Trek, but there might be even more consecutive boldly going along the way. Although no specific dates were given, Paramount+ also noted that on the animation front, Lower Decks would return for a third season in summer 2022, while Prodigy will air the remaining 10 episodes of season one “later in 2022.”

Also included in the announcement was a season renewal for Discovery, which will return for a fifth season—which io9 has confirmed will be, in line with the other live-action Trek series, a 10-episode run, down from the previous 13-episode runs. Plus, Lower Decks will be returning for a fourth season, and Strange New Worlds is gaining a second season. Prodigy had already been previously renewed for a second season, and no details were revealed for Picard’s future, likely because the series doesn’t need to yet: production is currently underway on the already-announced season three for the series, returning from a brief pause due to a covid-19 outbreak on set.

Even before Star Trek: Discovery had barely just begun, ViacomCBS execs envisioned an incoming period for Trek where it would be airing basically all the time. With a whopping five different shows running practically consecutively throughout 2022, and still a few more on the way at some point, it’s safe to say that just a few years later... they’re getting pretty damn close to just that.


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5/25 - Raising Dion's Season 2 Trailer Has Lots More Super-Powered Kid Action

Ja’Siah Young returns as the superpowered Dion in season two of Raising Dion.
Image: Netflix

Netflix rolls out many new shows on what feels like a daily basis, there’s always a chance one or two fall through the cracks. For example, maybe you didn’t know that Michael B. Jordan is among the executive producers on a show called Raising Dion, about single mother Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) and her young son,  Dion (Ja’Siah Young), dealing with the fact he’s developing superpowers—powers he’ll need to save the world and take down an evil villain named the Crooked Man.

Well, at least that’s what was what happened in season one. Based on the comic series by Dennis Liu, Raising Dion will return for a second season that sees the growing superhero learning more about his powers, meeting more superpowered people, and probably having to save the world again. Here’s the awesome looking season two trailer.

“When we created Raising Dion season one, we knew we wanted it to be for everyone—adults, children, and adults who are still kids at heart,” executive producers Michael B. Jordan and Liz Raposo said in a press release. “The audience response was beyond our wildest expectations and along with our cast, crew, and partners at Netflix and MACRO, we cannot wait to bring you season two.”

“Dion and his friends are growing up and so is our show,” showrunner
Carol Barbee added. “In season two, you’re going to get even more action, more mystery, more surprises, and yes, more powers. Nicole’s challenges escalate as she comes face to face with every parent’s worst nightmare. The stakes are higher than ever, and we’re so excited for fans to continue this journey with us.”

Raising Dion returns to Netflix on February 1. It co-stars Jason Ritter as Pat Rollins aka Crooked Man; Rome Flynn as Tevin, Dion’s new trainer and a possible love interest for Nicole; as well as Griffin Robert Faulkner as Brayden, the new superpowered kid who comes to Atlanta. Then also there’s Jazmyn Simon as Kat Neese, Sammi Haney as Esperanza Jimenez, and others.


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6/25 - The Boys' Animated Spinoff Is Coming Sooner Than You Think and Is Exactly as Violent as You'd Expect

Screenshot: Prime Video

It was only a bit over a month ago that Amazon announced that its hit The Boys was got to get an animated spinoff titled Diabolical, which was going to be an animated anthology of short cartoons set in the Boys-iverse. Now, Diabolical has a (very close!) release date and a first look at the series in action, and... it’s very striking, to say the least.

The look is a very brief clip from an episode that seems to be titled “Laser Baby,” which makes a certain amount of sense in that it stars the infant that shoots deadly lasers out of its eyes from season one of The Boys in one of its most infamous scenes. What’s interesting is the style Diabolical has chosen for the short:

Those are the visuals of the epitome of ‘90s kids’ cartoons, just with graphic violence, murder, and a giant pool of blood that puddles uncomfortably close to Laser Baby. The guy slipping in the aforementioned puddle of blood could have been taken from Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, and more if the color of the liquid was changed to black oil or blue water. Honestly, it’s highly reminiscent of the 1958 Tom & Jerry cartoon “Tot Watchers,” in which the pair tried desperately to keep a baby from getting itself killed. (I think Looney Tunes did one as well, but I can’t remember and don’t want to look it up.) This time, however, it appears the baby will be doing the killing.

If you’re put off by the childish look of the short, fret not; each of Diabolical’s eight episodes will have its own unique animation style when it comes to Prime Video on March 4—less than a month away.


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7/25 - In Severance, Memory Is Company Property

Screenshot: Apple TV

Between the never-ending pandemic, systemic wage inequality, and constant management nightmares, real-life work has never felt so dystopian. But Ben Stiller’s new Apple TV+ series, Severance, takes things to another level by having Adam Scott undergo a very strange procedure: to have two wholly separate sets of memories, one for his work life, and one for personal use.

It’s the sort of idea you can easily see some horrid CEO running a company with proprietary information forcing on his poor drones, but it’s also an idea rife with the possibility of being used to screw over employees. Which is, of course, absolutely what seems to be happening in Severance:

The official synopsis offers one more mystery, in that Scott’s character might also have more going on than even he realizes: “In Severance, Mark Scout (Adam Scott) leads a team at Lumon Industries, whose employees have undergone a severance procedure, which surgically divides their memories between their work and personal lives. This daring experiment in ‘work-life balance’ is called into question as Mark finds himself at the center of an unraveling mystery that will force him to confront the true nature of his work… and of himself.”

Honestly, the show only looks all right, and will probably live and die on how interesting the mystery at the heart of Lumon Industries and Scout is. But on the plus side, the cast is absolutely stacked—in addition to Scott, Severance stars Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, and Christopher Walken. And again, the show is directed and executive produced by Ben Stiller, who knows himself some dark comedies.

The first two episodes of Severance will premiere on Apple TV+ on February 18, with the remaining seven episodes airing weekly afterward on Fridays.


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8/25 - A Star Trek: Voyager Fan Built a Replica Tricorder That's Better Than Any Prop Hollywood Has Ever Made

Gif: YouTube - Mangy_Dog

Despite the show’s finale airing almost 20 years ag,o the technology in Star Trek: Voyager (and even TNG) still looks convincingly futuristic, and we’d happily trade our folding smartphones like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or the Surface Duo 2 for this incredible recreation of one of Voyager’s tricorders.

Producing a sci-fi TV series based on one of the most beloved franchises of all time isn’t cheap. You not only have to build standing sets recreating the interior of a giant starship, there’s also alien worlds to construct, loads of special effects, and mountains of futuristic props for the cast to interact with. According to Hackaday, For Star Trek: Voyager, the second follow-up to the wildly successful Star Trek: The Next Generation, there were plans to introduce an updated design for the ubiquitous tricorder—a futuristic PDA that can do almost anything a script requires of it—but concept sketches were replaced with hand-me-down props from TNG to keep costs down.

At least one Star Trek: Voyager fan felt that was a great injustice, but instead of voicing their concerns during a Q&A session at a Star Trek convention, they set out to build the Voyager Tricorder, as they call it, in real life. The first version that YouTuber Mangy_Dog (a UI designer who’s also skilled at electronics) took over a year to build was impressively capable and looked straight out of the 24th century. But when a friend commissioned a replica of the tricorder for themselves, Mangy_Dog took the opportunity to thoroughly update the prop inside and out, and while it took several years to complete, the results look even better than anything Hollywood has ever delivered.

Mangy_Dog has delved into the design and engineering process behind the Voyager Tricord V2 build in three videos. The first video goes into some of the challenges of the hardware itself, including custom PCBs and problems with sourcing high-quality displays, while the second video delves into the custom user interface and animations created for the prop, which are all generated and rendered on the fly, instead of just being pre-rendered videos played back on queue. The third video goes much deeper into the internal hardware including the custom PCB created for the project and the extensive code that powers it.

In addition to LCD displays displaying what appear to be Starfleet standard user interfaces, the Voyager Tricorder V2 includes countless touch-sensitive buttons used to switch modes or activate secret features after a long press. There’s also blinking, flashing, and pulsing LEDs all over the device, making it look like the tricorder is actually scanning and interacting with its environment, when in reality the only thing this replica tricorder can actually do is make other Star Trek fans incredibly envious.


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9/25 - These Monster Mash-Up Baseball Cards Are Freaking Incredible

Predator, werewolf, malignant tumor, just your usual baseball cards by Topps and Alex Pardee.
Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

We’re willing to bet that whether or not you think baseball, or baseball cards, are cool, you probably think monsters are cool. Who doesn’t think monsters are cool? And if an artist took a bunch of famous baseball players and illustrated them as really awesome, creepy, scary monsters to put on baseball cards, well, you’d probably think that’s cool too.

We hope so at least because that’s exactly what’s happened. The artist in question is Alex Pardee, best known for detailed, stringy, bright art that’s usually creepy and scary even if it’s of something cute. This year Pardee was recruited by Topps to help with a project called Project 70, an initiative celebrating the 70th anniversary of the company in which artists create unique baseball cards that could never have existed. Modern players on old designs, old players on new designs, or sometimes players if they were the Predator, a zombie, or a skeleton.

Matching players to a monster was rarely easy. Sometimes, like New York Mets star Pete Alonso, it was. He’s already called “the Polar Bear.” But for most others, Pardee had to dive deep. “For the most part the ‘monster-application’ to the design happened literally when I was drawing the cards,” Pardee told io9. “I would research photos of them, or read their wiki pages, or watch highlight reels, and sometimes ideas would pop up.”

So you get a stellar third baseman like Pittsburgh Pirates star Ke’bryan Hayes with a ton of arms like a spider. A dual threat like Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani as a Malignant-esque set of conjoined twins, and on and on. “I started researching current/modern players and found out that there’s some really FUN players out there now,” Pardee said. “Younger players that genuinely look like they are having an amazing time playing. Players like Ronald Acuna Jr, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Pete Alonso were all just smiling in highlight videos while they were dominating these games. So I decided I wanted to do about half older players and half modern players.”

io9 is exclusively revealing Pardee’s card for Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. right here for the first time. Just click the next slide to see him, followed by the rest of the series so far, which will include two more yet-to-be-released cards. For more info, you can visit Topps.com or @alexpardee on Twitter or Instagram.

io9 Exclusive: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

With a name like “Vladimir,” this Blue Jays superstar just had to be a vampire, right? It’s Pardee’s first in the series and you’re seeing him here first.

This card arrives on Wednesday, January 19 between 11 a.m. and noon EST on Topps.com. It will only be available for 70 hours and will cost $20. Now onto the rest of the series.

Ricky Henderson

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson was rather fast.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Here Pardee does Tatis Jr. as a Predator. But Predators don’t see like that so...

Fernando Tatis Jr. Variant

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

He also did a Predator thermal vision variant.

Shohei Ohtani

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Shohei Ohtani is the first player in decades to not just pitch and hit in the American League, to be freaking amazing as both. Which is why he’s seen here with a second half.

Ronald Acuña Jr.

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

The young, hungry superstar from the current World Series champions has some mighty big teeth here.

Rollie Fingers

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Rollie Fingers was known for his great name, great pitching, and great mustache.

Ken Griffey Jr.

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

When I played Fantasy Baseball we had a saying. “It’s never iffy, if it’s Griffey.” That has nothing to do with this card but I’ve always wanted to type that.

Bryce Harper

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Bryce Harper is a beast and, well, here he is.

Babe Ruth

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Who is the Greatest Of All Time in terms of baseball? Probably Babe Ruth. Hence, the GOAT.

Cal Ripken Jr.

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Ripken was called the “Iron Man” because he never missed a game, so this one is pretty easy.

Aaron Judge

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Current Yankees star Aaron Judge is very strong and here you see those muscles on the outside.

Dave Parker

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

To be honest I don’t know why early ‘80s Pirates star Dave Parker is dressed as Jason Voorhees. His nickname was Cobra. Still cool though.

Pete Alonso

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

According to Pardee, Mets star Pete Alonso is one of the only players to reach out and tell him he loved the card.

Dennis Eckersley

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

“I think his card may be one that I am super proud of simply for how ridiculous it is,” Pardee said. “I had such a left-field obscure idea for what I wanted to do that I didn’t think it was going to get approved at all but it did!”

“Dennis Eckersley’s nickname was ‘ECK,’ and one of my favorite movies is Mars Attacks, and in Mars Attacks, the aliens scream ‘ACK ACK.’ I realized that Topps created the original Mars Attacks property, and that they still own the IP rights to Mars Attacks, so my idea was to create Dennis Eckersley AS a Mars Attacks alien screaming ‘ECK ECK.’ And to my absolute surprise, it worked. That was cool.”

Randy Johnson

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Hall of Famer and star of Little Big League Randy Johnson threw a mean fastball.

Willie Mays

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Willie Mays as a werewolf? Yup. Sure. Willie Mays as a werewolf.

Ke’Bryan Hayes

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

To play third base, you have to be very athletic. Or have a lot of arms like a spider.

Mike Trout

Image: Alex Pardee/Topps

Trout is one of the best players of all time. He’s almost more than a man.

That’s it for now but there are two more cards coming in the next few weeks. To purchase the cards (most of which, unfortunately, are sold out) or find more information, visit Topps.com or @alexpardee on Twitter or Instagram.


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10/25 - The Cuphead Show's First Trailer Runneth Over

Image: Netflix

Making an animated TV show about characters from a video game that was inspired wholly from classic animation seems feels like a bit of an ouroboros, or a snake eating its own tail. But is that really a problem when Netflix’s upcoming The Cuphead Show looks so good and fun? I think not.

It’s not really shocking (because why wouldn’t Netflix have chosen to license the property otherwise), but The Cuphead Show holds true to the classic American animation of the early 1930s, which is sometimes called the “rubber hose” style for the characters’ constant movements and noodle-like limbs. The character designs, like in the game, could have come straight out of an early Max Fleischer or Walt Disney cartoon. Frankly, the show looks like a hoot:

It doesn’t, however, look like the show is going to hew too closely to the story of the original game in which Cuphead and his brother Mugman lose their souls to the Devil at his casino, and are charged with tracking down other debtors in hopes of not getting dragged to hell (which play out in the game as some incredibly difficult boss fights). Instead, The Cuphead Show looks like it’s going to play out as a dozen 12-minute, standalone episodes, which is far more accurate to the game’s inspiration. This also explains why Netflix’s official synopsis is so generic:

The Cuphead Show! is a character-driven comedy series following the unique misadventures of loveable, impulsive scamp Cuphead and his cautious but easily swayed brother Mugman. As the two scour their surreal homeworld of the Inkwell Isles in search of fun and adventure, they always have each other’s back. Unless there’s only one cookie left, in which case it’s every cup for himself. The Cuphead Show! combines nostalgic delights, side-splitting gags, and a healthy dose of the heebie jeebies—especially when a ridiculously weird nemesis, The Devil himself, arrives on the scene to toy with our heroes.”

Featuring the voices of Tru Valentino (Cuphead), Frank Todaro (Mugman), Joe Hanna (Elder Kettle), Luke Millington-Drake (Devil), Grey Griffin (Ms. Chalice), and Wayne Brady (King Dice), Netflix’s The Cuphead Show premieres on February 18.


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11/25 - Updates From Batgirl, Moonfall, and More

Batgirl begins.
Image: Warner Bros.

A third Happy Death Day could be in the works. Ethan Hawke’s Moon Knight villain has been revealed. Plus, what’s coming on 4400 and Resident Alien, and more on when to expect Yellowjackets’ return. Spoilers now!


Happy Death Day 3

According to Jason Blum on Twitter. “something is stirring” in regards to a third Happy Death Day movie.


Five Nights at Freddy’s

Blum also promised the long-awaited Five Nights at Freddy’s movie is “still coming.”


Batgirl

Batgirl awaits her cue in new set footage courtesy of Batgirl Film News. The account also has a set photo of a mural bearing the likeness of Michael Keaton’s Batman.


Moonfall

Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson and John Bradley enjoy their own Moonfall posters courtesy of /Film.

Photo: Lionsgate
Photo: Lionsgate
Photo: Lionsgate



Yellowjackets

In a recent interview with Vulture, Showtime president Gary Levine stated the second season of Yellowjackets will air sometime before the end of the year.

We are working towards a premiere at the end of 2022. We’d love to stay on an annual cycle. I think our audiences deserve that, and I also think that when you have a show that has this kind of a momentum, you don’t want to let it dissolve.


Moon Knight

Closed-captioning on last night’s Moon Knight trailer confirms Ethan Hawke plays Arthur Harrow, a character to only appear in a single issue of a Marvel comic book. Though Hawke has stated in interviews he based on his performance on cult leader David Koresh, the Harrow of the comics was a scientist suffering from trigeminal neuralgia who hoped to deaden the pain centers of the human body with unwitting human test subjects. Unfortunately, Harrow’s research never went past the “accidental zombification” stage.


4400

The 4400 revolt in the trailer for next week’s episode.


Resident Alien

Finally, Alan Tudyk takes you on an MTV Cribs-style tour of Harry’s cabin as it appears in the second season of Resident Alien. Notably, he states it still “needs new floors” because he “destroys them” sometime this season.


Banner art by Jim Cook


12/25 - D&D's Epic New 'Monsters of the Multiverse' Makes Creating Characters and Creatures Easier Than Ever

Get ready to dive deep into the D&D Multiverse.
Image: Greg Rutkowski/Wizards of the Coast (Other)

Dungeons & Dragons is bigger right now than than it’s ever been before, and its designers have spent nearly eight years building on its latest incarnation. A new introductory collection wants to tie all of those post Player’s Handbook design decisions together, and cut a path towards whatever’s next.

Next week D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast will release the D&D Rules Expansions Gift Set, a new collection of three source books meant to help players expand their campaigns with new creatures, items, race options, and more, with exclusive covers, a slipcase, and a Dungeon Master’s screen. Two familiar rules books are included, the already released Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. But even if you’re a diehard collector who already has those, there’s still a compelling reason to check it out: The early release of the next, most comprehensive rules and stats book for fifth edition, Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse.

Image: Wizards of the Coast

“This is the true companion to the Monster Manual and to the Player’s Handbook. It is a fantastic collection of creatures and NPCs, many of whom appeared in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tomb of Foes—but now integrated together and updated,” D&D’s principal rules designer Jeremy Crawford told press in a recent event. For Crawford and D&D’s designers, Monsters of the Multiverse presents the evolution of nearly a decade of change for fifth edition, collecting hundreds of monsters and oodles of playable races introduced in prior books and digital releases, while making character creation and the use of a wide array of those creatures and races in a campaign easier than ever—or just as mechanically complex as either a player or a Dungeon Master wants them to be.

“We looked at a lot of the monsters that appeared previously in print and thought, ‘We can make a number of these a more streamlined experience,’” Crawford said. “We’d talked publicly at D&D Celebration that we’ve made a number of our spellcasting monsters easier to run. They still have spellcasting, but it’s going to be a bit less overwhelming for DMs to use those monsters. We’ve also, in various places, created new traits. As you go through the book, you’re going to find some monsters where at first you’re like, ‘I know this one!’—but when you look at its stat block, you’ll go ‘well, there’s a new twist.’”

For Crawford, this didn’t just mean iterating on rules for streamlining or change’s sake, but making creatures feel like they’re at their maximum potential. “Is this monster the best version of itself? Is there a way we can make Zuggtmoy even more Zuggtmoy?” Crawford asked. “We were looking for opportunities in every case to enhance the monster, make it easier to run... and make them far more dangerous to run than they were the last time they were in print.”

The reason for that last point is, really, that the current iteration of D&D has been around for eight years now, and even as plenty of newcomers join the game’s community, there’s plenty of seasoned veterans who are used to the creatures as written nearly a decade ago. Perhaps in some cases, those creatures were never as dangerous as signified by their assigned “CR,” or Challenge Rating, a shorthand that denotes how threatening a creature should be an average adventuring party.

“We’ve gotten pretty consistent feedback since the core books in 2014 that a number of our high CR monsters felt a bit too weak, like they were punching below their challenge rating,” Crawford admitted. Monsters of the Multiverse won’t fundamentally change previously established Challenge Ratings, but will instead punch up a creature’s stats to make sure they warrant the CR they were previously assigned.

“Part of this work was also us changing how these monsters earn their challenge rating. In those previous books, the monsters did hit their challenge ratings, but we used a different method to hit it. In the past, all a monster had to do was have a set of combat options that, if the DM chose that right set, the monster was that challenge rating. Here’s the issue with that approach: if the DM doesn’t happen to pick that golden path, a number of those monsters then fall out of their challenge rating,” Crawford explained.

Image: Wizards of the Coast

“That’s exactly why the math supports the fan feedback we got by many groups,” he said. “But then we’d have other DM’s say the monsters seemed exactly as they were as printed, because those DM happened to pick the optimal sequence of things that created the monster’s optimal challenge rating. In Monsters of the Multiverse, we’ve changed the approach. We’ve now made it so that each of the monsters has multiple choice sequences that lead to the same CR. And so what that’s going to do is give groups who never fought the optimal version of the monster [a challenge that feels] way more powerful... We also did protect their non-combat options, so it is possible for a monster to not be as threatening as its CR may suggest, but we made it clearer to the DM when they are taking that path. The DM will be able to make a more informed choice.”

Crawford sees this sort of revision as the true core of what Monsters of the Multiverse is about for players, rather than just a collection of hundreds of monster and race entries and their associated stats. It will also make that information from across reams of sourcebooks available in one convenient place, offer information to integrate those rules into games conveniently, and deliver them in a more accessible manner. That doesn’t just apply in the rules sense, but, in perhaps the most geekiest of all things you could possibly wonder about even for a Dungeons & Dragon book: organization.

“One of the things I’m most excited about having to do with DM convenience, is, when I’m prepping a game with this book, we’ve changed the alphabetization of all the monsters,” Crawford gleefully explained. “So, going back to Zuggtmoy, for instance, if you wanted to look up the state block of the demon lord, Zuggtmoy, you wouldn’t find her if you went to ‘Z’—you’d have to remember she was a demon lord, and look her up under ‘D’. Now, if you go to ‘Z’ you’re going to find her! It’s a small thing, but I think this change alone will make many DM’s lives easier. There are still a few little categories—those are in the table of contents and will become clear when you go through the book—but for the most part, when you think of the monster’s name, you will go to it. As a part of that reorganization of all the monsters, all of the NPCs that previously appeared in an appendix at the back of, for example, Volo’s Guide—they are now integrated into the book in alphabetical order.”

Image: Wizards of the Coast

Re-organizing rules also meant taking old suggestions for creature customization and integrating those into an archetypal stat block alongside the original. “What we did when we brought creatures in from previous books, we looked for any place they might have suggested, ‘here’s how you customize the monster to make a different monster’—if we felt that that customization option was compelling enough for DMs to use in campaigns wherever they are in the D&D multiverse, we did the work for the DM and created a new stat block. There are a number of new stat blocks like that, we now just give you that other monster with its own stat block,” Crawford explained.

It also gave the team the chance to add in some entirely new creatures in the process. “One of the most delightful ones is the Dolphin Delighter—a fae dolphin,” Crawford teased. “When I was putting together the dolphin page for this book, I realized dolphins in the game had often been associated with seals, which are also in the book along with other fae aquatic folk. We finally introduce a telepathic, teleporting fae dolphin!”

From a storytelling perspective the book reads as Mordenkainen introducing readers to creatures that exist in forms across all the planes of existence in Dungeons & Dragons, so re-presenting rules gave the design team to add a little narrative flair and flavor. “We made sure what we say about the monsters is the most applicable no matter what world you’re in. What that allowed us to do is add in some really juicy bits of multiverse lore because we weren’t just talking about them in a specific world. These are truths about the creatures on a multiversal level. That allowed us to put in some really neat details that go into some of the D&D’s old lore,” Crawford added.

All this means Monsters of the Multiverse lays the groundwork for something beyond refinement of what came before; according to Crawford, it also should prepare players for whatever comes next for Dungeons & Dragons as they approach 2024, the game’s 50th anniversary, the game’s next evolution. “We are working as we speak on revisions of the core rulebooks that will be backward compatible [with fifth edition material], and all that was in our mind as we worked on Monsters of the Multiverse,” Crawford said. “This book is ready-to-go and will continue to keep going for years to come.”

The D&D Rules Expansion Gift Set is available from January 25, 2022, while Monsters of the Multiverse will be available separately, in both digital and physical formats, from May 17.


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13/25 - Moon Knight's First Trailer Brings Moonlit Menace to the MCU

Screenshot: Marvel Studios

Although Disney and Marvel Studios briefly gave us a glimpse of Oscar Isaac in action as one of Marvel Comics’ most iconic street-level vigilantes around a few months ago, now we have a full, proper glimpse at what happens when Marc Spector becomes the Moon Knight—the answer is a snazzy white suit and a whole lot of violence.

Release during tonight’s Wild Card NFL playoff game between the Cardinals and the Rams, the new trailer more properly introduces us to how Isaac’s Spector becomes the living will of the Egyptian god Khonshu. In the comics when Moon Knight was introduced back in 1975, we meet Spector as a former marine turned mercenary with dissociative identity disorder, who finds himself gravely wounded on a mission. Taken to recover from his wounds at a temple dedicated to Khonshu, Spector finds himself not only miraculously saved from death, but reborn as an avatar of the moon god, dedicated to a life of protecting the weak from evil, no matter the cost.

As well as re-introducing us to Isaac’s Spector, the trailer also gives us our first full look at the Moon Knight costume in action, revealing a faithful, albeit more textured-looking riff on the classic comics suit—and how it takes over Spector by almost wrapping him in it—as well as glimpses of Ethan Hawke as the series’ antagonist. Moon Knight joins the likes of She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Secret Invasion, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, and even an alleged Halloween-themed special inspired by the comic series Moon Knight first debuted in, Werewolf by Night, as part of Marvel’s streaming plans for phase four of the MCU this year, while the series looks towards Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at the box office.

Moon Knight is set to hit Disney+ from March 30. Check out a new poster for the series below!

Image: Marvel Studios

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14/25 - The Man Who Fell to Earth Remake's First Teaser Puts the Future in Chiwetel Ejiofor's Hands

Let’s hope he brought a spare set of clothes.
Screenshot: Showtime

Showtime has released the first look at Star Trek’s Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet’s take on the iconic Walter Tevis novel is here, giving us a glimpse at Chiwetel Ejiofor’s arrival on Earth—and his alien struggle to find a way to fit into a changing human society.

The new series, first pitched for Hulu, and then CBS All Access (now Paramount+), and now instead landing on Showtime, follows Ejiofor not as the novel’s—nor David Bowie’s character in the 1976 film, directed by Nicolas Roeg—extra-terrestrial protagonist, Thomas Jerome Newton, but a being known as Faraday, who is from the same species but crucially not the first member of said species to arrive on Earth. Or fall, perhaps.

The teaser has a few hints of the show’s approach to trippy, celestially-tinged views in flashes and ominous weather events, but largely focuses on Faraday’s first encounters with Harris’ character, an as-yet-unnamed human society, as the two grapple with the prospect of making first contact with an alien species. Although we still don’t know much about what plans Kurtzman and Lumet—who are currently both working together on the Star Trek: Discovery spinoff series Strange New Worlds, focusing on pre-Kirk Enterprise captain Chris Pike—have for the show, and following particularly in the footsteps of Roeg’s adaptation, the duo recently told Entertainment Weekly that the new series will trend less to the melancholic tone of the book and the film.

“[The book and film are] about this extraordinary loneliness, and how human loneliness can ultimately destroy you. I loved that feeling in the work that had been made, [but] it was not the story that I wanted to tell, and it was not the story that Jenny wanted to tell,” Kurtzman said to EW. “We were interested in integrating that loneliness, but I think we wanted to tell a story that’s ultimately much more uplifting.”

I believe in human beings, and I wanted to write about human beings pulling it out, stepping up, and making it through. Because we’re pretty cool species,” Lumet added. “And I believe that if a spaceman came to Earth, he would see all our shenanigans and he would say, ‘Wait a minute, you guys are capable of some really beautiful stuff.’”

The Man Who Fell to Earth is expected to hit Showtime in Spring.


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15/25 - RIP Dave Wolverton, Who Gave Us the Enduring Star Wars Legacy of The Courtship of Princess Leia

The original cover for The Courtship of Princess Leia, by legendary poster artist Drew Struzan.
Image: Drew Struzan/Del Rey

John David Wolverton, the author behind the Runelords fantasy saga, Ravenspell, and more—as well as the author of one of the most famous Star Wars expanded universe stories around—has passed away at the age of 64.

Wolverton’s passing was announced on social media last Friday by his son. The author, who kept his name for his sci-fi work, also penned a litany of fantasy novels and series under the name David Farland, and wrote several time for the Star Wars saga in the wake of his own series like the aforementioned Runelords, Serpent Catch, and more. As well as short stories included in famous anthologies such as Tales From Jabba’s Palace and Tales of the Bounty Hunters, Wolverton wrote entries in the Star Wars Missions and Star Wars Episode 1 Adventures roleplaying game/novel series. But he will forever be remembered for his sole adult readers entry into the Expanded Universe novel line: The Courtship of Princess Leia.

First published in 1994—and actually Wolverton’s debut work for the Star Wars saga—Courtship told what was, at the time, the definitive answer to a question fans had had since the end of Return of the Jedi: how did Leia Organa and Han Solo become husband and wife, as they were already depicted in the EU’s vision of Star Wars’ future? The answer... was admittedly very convoluted. Courtship is perhaps beloved and reviled in equal measure for its labyrinthine plot to eventually get Han and Leia married, involving Han briefly owning a planet, a very silly prince named Isolder from a very powerful planet called Hapes, and C-3PO singing a song about Han’s romantic prowess (“Han Solo, What a man! Solo. He’s every princess’s dream!”). Nostalgically, it’s perhaps one of the best examples of the Expanded Universe at its highest and lowest, more than a little silly, more than a little loving, and somehow in spite of all that, one of the most enduringly influential pieces of Star Wars fiction around.

Courtship did more than just show us the wild road to Organa-Solo matrimonial mayhem, it introduced concepts to the EU that became so deep-rooted that they’ve survived into the current iteration of Star Wars canon today. The Hapes cluster became an important star system in the old EU as part of the New Republic’s expansion in the wake of Return of the Jedi, and introduced important future characters like the Imperial Warlord Zsinj and Isolder’s daughter Tenel Ka Djo, who grew up to become a prominent member of the New Jedi Order. But perhaps most enduring of all is that planet that Han happened to own: Dathomir. A version of the world—home to, as it was in Courtship, a tribal society of Force-wielding mystics known as the Nightsisters—was elevated into primary Star Wars continuity through its introduction to The Clone Wars animated series, which in turn remained part of Star Wars canon upon Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm.

The concepts Wolverton created for the Witches of Dathomir, from their sinister lens onto the powers of the Force and its dark side, to even the concept of them as warriors riding into battle atop Rancors, helped shape and influence the Dathomir we would see in Clone Wars and beyond, as it became vital to the stories of characters like Asajj Ventress and the returned Darth Maul. It’s a legacy that persists to this day, with the Witches being namechecked in the most recent episode of The Book of Boba Fett, which hinted at the possibility of its titular ex-Bounty Hunter entertaining the idea of learning how to ride a Rancor himself.

Wolverton’s work may have proved controversial over the long-and-winding history of Star Wars tie-in fiction, but its continued and celebrated influence, in spite of all that, is undeniable. Our thoughts are with his family in this unfortunate time.


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16/25 - Watch WandaVision's Tragic Climax Come Together In This VFX Reel

“We’ll say hello again... but only after the visual team is done filling me in.”
Gif: ILM/Marvel Studios

It’s been just over a year since WandaVision first hit Disney+, so while we wait for the Scarlet Witch to return in Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness to grapple with the whole “so I was understandably quite sad and magically took it out on a small town/a witch passing by/the synthetic corpse of my android lover” deal, in the meantime, ILM has given us a great chance to look back and see the series’ emotional finale come together.

Rather literally, as the VFX house’s latest Marvel reel is about the composition of the moment Wanda brings down the Hex around Westview altogether, saying goodbye to the vision of, well, The Vision, that she had conjured as her loving husband. You get to see how it started on set—with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany being circumnavigated a moveable lighting and green-screen rig being pushed around, until Bettany has to almost comically rapidly step out of camera for the final moments of his “disintegration,” and then see it slowly build up through layers of VFX to the final moment.

And there’s a ton of cool little details in those effects shown off too, like the individual flashes for all the older versions of Wanda and Vision’s house from the show, and of course all the rigging to turn Bettany’s dot-covered Vision make up into the synthezoid we all know and love. Especially interesting in that regard is a brief moment in Vision’s disintegration where we see the “nerves” of his body breaking down—and how the pattern we see was actually designed in reference to a similar moment from Age of Ultron, when we see the golden system light up upon the Soul Stone being embedded in Vision’s forehead. Just as we saw when he was “born,” so as he was when he “died,” it’s a nice little touch that makes an already sad scene that much sadder, just in case you thought you were done being emotional over a TV show at this point.


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17/25 - The Expanse Series 6: 4 Things We Loved (and 2 Things We Didn't Love)

Holden prepares for action.
Image: Amazon Studios

The Expanse is over. Long live The Expanse! With season six now in the books and the show wrapped for good, we’re looking back at the final season. Obviously, it’s still one of the greatest sci-fi shows of all time (it made io9's list of best TV of 2021!), but we had a few nitpicks this final go-round... keeping in mind that the “worst” of The Expanse is still better than most series could ever hope to be. Let’s dive in!

What did we love about The Expanse season six?

We’ll always love Avasarala’s outfits... that goes without saying.
Image: Amazon Studios

Action Scenes That Looked (and Felt) Great

Once again, The Expanse was filled with an incredible array of action scenes this season—including multiple space battles that were among the series’ very best. But all that glorious warhead-flinging and rail gun fire didn’t exist in a vacuum; each sequence was carefully paced and contextualized to bring as much tension and excitement to the screen as possible. The Expanse may be a TV series, but the action scenes always had a way of feeling cinematic; this season’s standouts included the Rocinante’s skirmish with the Pella that led to Holden disarming the kill shot just before it landed, Amos and Bobbie’s teeth-rattling assault on the Ring Station, and the Roci crew’s genius (and meticulously timed) plan to eliminate Marco Inaros once and for all. Props to directors Breck Eisner, Jeff Woolnough, and Anya Adams, along with the series’ effects team, for making each fight feel high-stakes and unpredictable.

Getting to Spend Time With Everyone’s Growth

Considering The Expanse is based on a highly acclaimed book series, it’s no surprise that the writing (Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham, who wrote the books together as James S.A. Corey, penned multiple season six episodes) is one of its strongest points. Throughout the season, the action scenes nabbed our attention, but the more intimate moments between characters—be they sweet, contentious, bitter, or revelatory—also made an impact. Season six really made an effort to show how The Expanse’s core characters have evolved over the series; think of Chrisjen Avasarala recalling her cruel treatment of a Belter prisoner (a throwback to season one) and realizing that while she’s not that person anymore, it’s on her to make sure everybody else realizes that, too. Speaking of throwbacks, season six was also able to tie in some familiar faces from earlier seasons, like Prax and Elvi, in ways that felt organic rather than fan service-y.

This season also took time to evolve certain relationships (Amos and Bobbie, in particular, formed a nice bond this season based on brawn and snark; Holden and Naomi, the show’s stalwart couple, remained as strong as ever), while also showing the cracks that’ve formed between other characters as a result of what they’ve all been through—that Drummer-Naomi “fuck you” scene was particularly powerful, as was every confrontation between Filip and Marco.

Cara Gee as Drummer (and Everyone Else)

The Expanse cast has always been great, so no surprise here. My pick for season-six MVP is Cara Gee as Drummer—even while battling immense personal loss and a major existential crisis, she’s as fierce on the battlefield as she is at the negotiating table. But overall, everyone was excellent (from the subtle work of Steven Strait as Holden to the over-the-top swagger of Keon Alexander as Marco)—and the chemistry, especially between the veteran cast members, has never been better.

The Bonus “X-Ray” Extras

The season only ran six episodes, so the “X-Ray” bonus content (a new feature this season) was particularly welcome. Bundled under the theme of “One Ship,” it consisted of short vignettes that were attached to the first five episodes. Thanks to these shorts, we learned more about Drummer’s fractured relationship with her friend/frenemy/soul mate, Naomi; saw a stressed-out Avasarala soften a bit while reconnecting with a beloved young family member; got the answer to the proverbial Expanse question “What would happen if Amos and Bobbie brawled?”; witnessed Clarissa confront some very complex feelings about her father (a character we got to know in earlier Expanse seasons); and, perhaps most delightfully, observed the exact moment when Holden decided to join the crew of the Canterbury, the ship he was serving on during The Expanse season one, episode one—and whose doomed fate set the whole dang plot in motion.


What didn’t we love about The Expanse season six?

MORE, PLEASE.
Image: Amazon Studios


That It Felt Too Short (Because It Was)

We knew going into season six that we’d only be getting six episodes; we also knew that, considering The Expanse was cancelled by Syfy after its third season, the fact that we got three more seasons on Amazon was something of a miracle. So maybe we’re being greedy by saying we sure wish season six had been the previous Amazon standard of 10 episodes? Just a few more hours would have given some of the subplots more time to find their footing—the breakup of Drummer’s family, Monica Stuart’s journalism crusade, the crisis on Ceres). It also would have allowed for a bit more character development, both for characters we already know and love—Amos, in particular, felt a bit short shrifted this year, after season five’s involved arc—and new faces like Kathleen Robertson’s doomed Belter, Rosenfeld—a charismatic, assertive presence who never got to do anything beyond tell Filip and Marco Inaros how to behave around each other. That, and more episodes would have done much to mitigate...

... Those Dangling Plot Threads!

One suspects the team behind The Expanse would’ve dearly loved to dig deeper into the Laconia plot line. And there was no way season six couldn’t have included it; Admiral Duarte’s deal with Marco Inaros was a crucial part of Marco’s story and in setting up the big finale with the showdown at the Ring Station. Also, Laconia was a way to keep the protomolecule—such an important motivator throughout all previous seasons—actively involved in the story. But there simply wasn’t enough time to really explain Duarte was up to (in “Babylon’s Ashes,” enigmatically he tells Marco that he has “gods to kill” in his kiss-off message, but that’s a cool line that is then never followed up on), nor did we get any payoff for the protomolecule-fueled structure hovering in the Laconian sky. Also: let’s not forget a kid came back from the dead on Laconia, something that got a careful build-up but wasn’t pursued beyond its eerie reveal.

Of course, obviously, curious fans of the Expanse series can always pick up the Corey books to find out what happened after the events of “Babylon’s Ashes.” But the show did such an outstanding job bringing the books to the screen, with exceptional pacing, casting, and visual flair, that it’s disappointing not to get a full follow-through on the Laconia story. The show wisely left the question of whether Naomi and Filip would reunite—or if she would even get the chance to realize he didn’t perish alongside Marco—to the imagination; they might meet someday, but you can also envision a future where they’ve found peace apart from each other. We didn’t need a period put on every single storyline, either--part of the joy of The Expanse is that the characters may face far-out space situations, but they also feel like real people who deal with real-life stuff, like health problems, personality clashes with co-workers, and not being able to find a good cup of coffee. Their lives will have twists and turns that we can leave to the imagination, and feel just fine about that. But back on Laconia, little Xan’s protomolecule-fueled, black-eyed, black-blood-oozing, hug-demanding zombie corpse is still out there running through the forest with his sister—while forever running through our nightmares.

The Expanse season six is available on Amazon.


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18/25 - Turns Out the Crypto Bros Who Bought Jodorowsky's Dune Book Aren't Sure How Rights Work

Image: Chris Foss/Sony Classics

Late last year, a rare copy of one of the pitch books legendary director Alejandro Jodorowsky made to pitch his vision for an adaptation of Dune went to auction. Expected to sell for around $30-40,000, it went for around a baffling three million dollars, thanks to an ether-backed collective known as TheSpiceDAO. Now, they want to use manuscript to... make their own Dune.

SpiceDAO’s overwhelming bid for the book—one of a handful of copies still in existence, some of which has already been partially made available online before and highlighted in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune —was part of a number of headline-making landmark auctions for collectors items last year. Rare copies of Mario and Zelda games, comics like Spider-Man’s debut in Amazing Fantasy, and more all generated wildly-overestimated record breaking bids, in part driven by people with more money than sense placing speculatory bids into rare collectibles as the next big thing. The Christie’s sale of Jodorowsky’s Dune was no exception to this trend, albeit that it was one brushing up with another speculatory trend: cryptocurrency-backed DAOs, or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, pooling together millions of dollars from supporting crypto owners in an attempt to buy something and web3-ify it in some nebulous capacity. There was a failed attempt to purchase the US constitution, and plans to transform Blockbuster into a future streaming service by similar DAOs, and now, there is SpiceDAO. The difference with SpiceDAO’s plans to these, however, is that they suddenly think spending three million dollars just means they own Dune.

SpiceDAO attracted a bevy of attention—mostly scorn—over the weekend by reiterating their plans for Jorowsky’s Dune after its purchase. The first, to make the book public with a new digitized copy while the purchased physical book is stored in a “fine art quality storage with a professional, insured service,” is admirable, if not, as previously mentioned, something that’s never happened with other copies of the book before. The problem is the other two plans, which involve turning the Moebius-illustrated storyboards into an animated series to sell to a streaming service, and then also having done that, encourage derivative projects based on the manuscript from the crypto enthusiasts who backed the bid in the first place.

Except, of course, Jodorowsky’s Dune is still Dune, an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic novel. Purchasing a book of storyboards—one of several in existence, even if that number is low—and expecting that to transfer the rights to those storyboards, or the story itself, would’ve been like whoever purchased that copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 last year expecting they could go to Sony and direct Spider-Man: Are We Still Doing Home Puns?. Or, perhaps, you walking into a book store, picking up one of those re-released copies of Dune with the cast from Denis Villeneuve’s movie on the cover, and thinking you could walk up to Timothée Chalamet and tell him how Chapter Two is yours now.

SpiceDAO at least, in other avenues, has admitted that this would be a significant roadblock to adaptation, and intends to instead lean more towards creating something inspired by the work instead. “Jodorowsky’s expansive vision for Dune in some way planted the seeds for nearly every Sci-Fi project over the last 50 years. While we do not own the IP to Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, we are uniquely positioned with the opportunity to create our own addition to the genre as an homage to the giants who came before us,” the DAO wrote on its own Medium page in the wake of the auction late last year. Any project that came out of SpiceDAO’s purchase would have to delicately tread the line of homaging not just Herbert’s work—and now the work of a major Hollywood studio in Warner Bros.—but the legal rights of Jodorowsky’s estate, Moebius’ estate, and others involved in the original pitch itself. But then why would SpiceDAO need to purchase Jodorowsky’s pitch bible to create something simply inspired by Dune and the aesthetic Jodorowsky and his collaborators envisioned, if they were so intent on creating an original work?

Perhaps, the answer, is that you couldn’t run an ancillary grift of getting those crypto enthusiasts who supported the bid in the first place to invest in your own Dune-themed cryptocurrency that way, could you? After all, the spice must flow one way or the other.


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19/25 - Updates From Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, Moon Knight, and More

Doctor Strange goes far from home.
Image: Marvel Studios

John Cena goes behind the scenes in a new Peacemaker featurette. Get a glimpse of what’s to come on the Nancy Drew finale. Plus, what’s next on Batwoman, Superman & Lois, Naomi, and more. Spoilers get!


Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Reshoots have wrapped on the Doctor Strange sequel according to Xochitl Gomez on TikTok.


The Munsters

Rob Zombie has our first look at Space: 1999's Catherine Schell as Zoya Krupp in The Munsters.

MUNSTERS CASTING NEWS! I am thrilled to bring you the first photo from the set of CATHERINE SCHELL as Zoya Krupp. 🎥 I am sure you all remember Catherine as Maya from Space: 1999 or perhaps from Roy Ward Baker’s Moon Zero Two… or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the Dr. Who episode City of Death or her films with Peter Sellers The Return of the Pink Panther and The Prisoner of Zenda. 👍🏼 Catherine retired from acting in the 90’s , but now she is back and we are so happy to have her join us on THE MUNSTERS! #themunsters #catherineschell #robzombie #space1999


Hellbender

A drinking game involving a live worm awakens a teenager’s witchy ancestry in the trailer for Hellbender, coming to Shudder February 24, 2022.



Two-Sentence Horror Stories

Couples can’t catch a break in the synopses for both January 30 episodes of Two-Sentence Horror Stories.

Teeth

BEFORE I MET YOU I WAS IN A DARK AND LONELY PLACE... - A couple leaves the city for a romantic weekend in the woods, only to find themselves the target of a group of hostile locals. Naomi King, Savannah Basley, Trevor Lerner, Chelsea Jackson, Gainaele Royer and Shawn Stewart star. Kathleen Hepburn directed the episode written by Lisa Morales. (#302). Original airdate 1/30/2022.

The Killer Inside

I WANTED ALL OF HER... - A couple’s quarrel takes a dark and violent turn revealing how far one of them will go to protect the one they love. Sarah Himadeh, Samer Salem, Michael Benyaer, Irma Leong, Nilo Ghajar and Coulton Jackson star. Heidi Saman directed the episode written by Sehaj Sethi. (#307). Original airdate 1/30/2022.

[Spoiler TV]


4400

A “misunderstanding” may prove fatal for a member of the 4400 cast in the synopsis for “You Only Meant Well”.

TEMPERS FLARE - While Shanice (Brittany Adebomola) helps to prepare the Bois Blanc for a celebration, others are preparing for war. LaDonna (Khailah Johnson) returns to the hotel and we learn what she has experienced out in the real world and what she knows about the 44orum. After a disturbing incident, Hayden (AMARR) realizes the comfort of Kaminsky home may not be what is safest for everyone. Jharrell (Joseph David-Jones) reunites with his brother but is Manny (guest star Calvin Seabrooks) to be trusted and what is his connection to Claudette (Jaye Ladymore)? Meanwhile, an unfortunate misunderstanding might prove fatal for one of the 4400. The series also stars TL Thompson, Ireon Roach, Derrick A. King, Cory Jeacoma, and Autumn Best. Daniel Willis directed the episode written by Jackie Decembly (#111). Original airdate 1/31/2022.

[Spoiler TV]


Naomi

Naomi learns a little more about herself in the synopsis for “Enigma” airing February 1.

THE BALANCING ACT - Naomi (Kaci Walfall) discovers more about her past, but she must come to terms with all the secrets that have been kept from her... and who has been keeping them. And as the newly empowered teen continues her training with Dee (Alexander Wraith) and finds the courage to confront Zumbado (Cranston Johnson), she must balance her super-life with her school life when Annabelle (Mary-Charles Jones), Anthony (Will Meyers) and Jacob (Aidan Gemme) push Naomi to campaign for Class President. Also starring Barry Watson, Mouzam Makkar, Daniel Puig, Camila Moreno, and guest starring Stephanie March. Neema Barnette directed the episode written by Stephanie Coggins (#104). Original airdate 2/1/2022.

[Spoiler TV]


Superman & Lois

Lucy Lane pays a visit to Smallville in the synopsis for “The Inverse Method” — the fourth episode of Superman & Lois season two.

JENNA DEWAN (“SUPERGIRL”) GUEST STARS - Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) and Chrissy (Sofia Hasmik) are on a mission to find Lois’ sister Lucy (guest star Jenna Dewan) and Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alex Garfin) become more and more unsettled as Clark’s (Tyler Hoechlin) painful visions continue. Meanwhile, Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui), Kyle (Erik Valdez) and Sarah (Inde Navarette) share a family breakfast and discuss Sarah’s upcoming quinceanera. Lastly, Natalie (Tayler Buck) and her father (Wole Parks) share a bonding moment. Dylan Walsh and also stars. The episode was directed by Melissa Hickey and written by Jai Jamison & Andrew N. Wong (#204).

[Spoiler TV]


Batwoman

Gotham’s villains unite in the synopsis for “Broken Toys”, the February 3 episode of Batwoman.

DYNAMIC DUOS - Just when it seems things can’t get worse... Batwoman’s (Javicia Leslie) identity is once again at risk of being exposed, and some of Gotham’s most villainous unite. Sophie (Meagan Tandy) joins Luke (Camrus Johnson) on a mission and Alice (Rachel Skarsten) gets into Mary’s (Nicole Kang) head. Also starring Robin Givens and Nick Creegan. Camrus Johnson directed the episode written by Chad Fiveash, James Stoteraux and Natalie Abrams (#311). Original airdate 2/3/2022.

[Spoiler TV]


Nancy Drew

KSiteTV has photos from the January 28 season finale of Nancy Drew. Click through to see the rest.

Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW

Moon Knight

Marvel and Disney preview (quite a bit!) of footage in this surprisingly robust “teaser” for the full Moon Knight trailer arriving later today.


Peacemaker

Finally, a new Peacemaker featurette discusses the character’s sad inability to fit in with rest of humanity.


Banner art by Jim Cook


20/25 - Open Channel: What's Your Favorite TV Intro?

Image: HBO

Earlier this week, HBO Max’s Peacemaker finally hit the streaming service. And while we’d certainly like to hear what you thought about both John Cena’s DC spinoff (or the new Scream, if you’ve seen it!), we have to zero in on a specific part of the show: its ridiculously good opening titles.

Within the last decade or two, the approach to intro sequences have changed. Rather than being 5-15 seconds long or a simple title card, they’ve become more elaborate and grandiose, an event unto themselves. If they do their job right, they get you in the mood and make you interested enough to not hit the “skip intro” button, maybe even find the song to add on your Spotify playlist. At their worst, they’re a well-visualized distraction and something you can have on in the background while you get food or use the bathroom.

There are intro sequences that will forever be iconic thanks to their direction: Game of Thronesintro will be remembered for changing its location with each episode, as will Mad Men with its striking art style. (Of the prestige TV bunch, Westworld may have some of the best intro sequences to date.) Sometimes, an intro’s greatness is primarily because of its music more than its visuals, as is the case with Succession and Law & Order: SVU. Those two shows’ respective intros wouldn’t be what they are without respectively Nicholas Britell’s piano work and Mike Post’s killer clarinet.

Animated shows generally have better intro sequences, if only because they’re allowed to get a little more loose with what they can. They can be colorful and absurd, sweeping mood pieces, cyberpunk-lite jams you’ll remember years later. And that’s just in western animation: if you watch anime, you’re just used to openings getting you hype with incredible visuals and a song that you can’t wait to hear the full version of.

Let us know what some of your favorite intros are, or the ones that stick out in your mind, in the comments below.


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21/25 - Across the Spider-Verse is Bringing More Animation Styles with Its Spiders

Image: Sony Animation

Of the many highlights of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, its art styles were the among them. While Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) were in traditional 3D, the other Spiders had their own distinct visual styles. Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) was done in an anime-like art style, Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage) was in black-and-white, you get the idea. With Miles and Gwen now traveling through the multiverse for the incoming Across the Spider-Verse, it’s no surprise to hear that the sequel will broaden its visual horizons.

Speaking with Collider, producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller discussed how each universe visited in the film will be an artistic treat in their own rights. “The idea that we’d be going to different dimensions really opened up an opportunity artistically to have each world have its own art style,” Miller said. “and to have each dimension feel like it was drawn by a different artist’s hand.” You can see a little of this in the trailer itself as Miles and Miguel O’Hara’s (Oscar Isaac) visual looks change when they’re flung from a colorful 2D world to a vibrant 3D sci-fi setting.

The first Spider-Verse film was incredibly ambitious just by having six Spiders of differing art styles, and the sequel attempting to go bigger than that is what excites Lord and Miller about the industry. Citing both Across and the recent The Mitchells vs. the Machines as examples, Lord talked about how they want to “push animation in directions it hasn’t gone yet,” echoing the duo’s previous statements that they wouldn’t just rest on their laurels. Back in November, the pair teased that each universe would feel “radically different” from all the others, and that it would “make the first movie look quaint.”

Outside of O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, the other Spider to be confirmed is Issa Rae’s Spider-Woman. It’ll be interesting to see what other Spiders show up for the sequel, and what art styles they bring along with them. Hopefully the Japanese Spider-Man gets to make an appearance at some point.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse—Part One will release on October 7.


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22/25 - Leonardo DiCaprio, Huge Star Wars Nerd, Couldn't Get Jonah Hill to Love The Mandalorian

Image: Disney

If you’re a nerd, then no doubt you’ve tried to get a friend to like something as much as you do. It’s a crap shoot as to whether or not it will work, especially if it’s something as popular (and disjointed) as Star Wars. Recent years have been all over the place for George Lucas’ sci-fi franchise, and even when there’s something agreed upon to be really good like The Mandalorian, it’s not a guarantee that’ll make your friend a converter.

That’s what Leonardo DiCaprio learned while trying to get Jonah Hill in on the franchise. While speaking to W Magazine on his new film Don’t Look Up, Hill talked about how DiCaprio, a Star Wars fan, made him watch the misadventures of Pedro Pascal and baby Grogu. But Hill didn’t take to the show, partially because he’s not really a sci-fi guy in general. “If it didn’t happen or it couldn’t happen, then I just wasn’t interested, because I would lose focus.” And while he admitted that Grogu was cute as a button, he ultimately “just didn’t give a fuck because I didn’t know anything that it was about.”

On Instagram, the star was cheeky about his apathy towards the series and Grogu in particular. “They’re trying to create beef between me and Baby Yoda...Baby Yoda and I are dear friends and text at least once a week,” goes the caption. “We may not be text every day type of friends and yes, Covid put a strain on our friendship, but we are all good.” He also requested everyone respect their privacy at this time, and Grogu has yet to comment.

But what Hill does like is Game of Thrones, which he described as “so sick.” Since he began watching three episodes a night a few months ago, he’s now on the fourth season and being late to the party hasn’t stopped the show from blowing his mind. “I watched the Red Wedding,” he recalls, “I’m calling friends, like, “Oh my god, Robb Stark got killed, blah, blah, blah.” And they’re like, “Yeah, dude. It was like the end-of-Sopranos-level cultural event.” It’s both good and bad, then, that he doesn’t appear to use to Twitter all that much: he’ll be safe from spoilers, but that means we likely won’t know how he feels about the finale until the next time someone asks him about it for an interview.

[via Variety]


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23/25 - The X-Men's Comics Lineup Just Got Even Cooler

Do you believe in mutants and magic?
Image: Marvel Comics

Since House of X hit in 2019, Marvel’s mutants have had a real good run of comics, both long running and short-lived. Jonathan Hickman may now be out after the recent Inferno miniseries, but his Krakoa status quo is still very much in, and a new pair of comics are going to spin out of it in some pretty cool ways.

The first, Knights of X, is one of many interesting and new books that are a part of the “Destiny of X” line. Serving as a sequel to the magical Excalibur series, returning writer Tini Howard and Way of X artist Bob Quinn will take Captain Britain (Betsy Braddock) and a team of mutants on a trip through the magical realm of Otherworld. Cut off from Krakoa, Betsy and her Knights—which includes Gambit, Rictor, Shatterstar, Rachel Summers, Gloriana, Bei the Blood Moon, and two currently unknown characters—will have to save the realm and rescue and mutants also trapped there. Howard described the comic as a “quest for a precious treasure” that will see the ten mutants doing what they do best: “fighting for a(n Other)world that hates and fears them.”

Knights of X #1's cover, drawn by Rod Reis.
Image: Marvel Comics

This next book is House of X, but with a twist: what if it happened in the 90s? In Steve Foxe and Salva Espin’s five-part miniseries X-Men ‘92: House of XCII, the pair explore the possibility of the 90s incarnation of mutants building Krakoa as a utopia during their time. According to Marvel, though, this won’t be the exact same hard sci-fi story that House ultimately became when all was said and done.

Both Foxe and Espin expressed excitement at getting to remix the story, with the former teasing some “wild deviations” from the source material in store. With the news of the 90s series coming back next year, it’ll be interesting to see what this miniseries does to also capture the hearts of those nostalgic fans while also blazing its own path.

Cover to X-Men ‘92: House of XCII #1, drawn by David Baldeon.
Image: Marvel Comics

Both Knights of X and X-Men ‘92: House of XCII will release respectively on April 13 and April 6.


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24/25 - All of Us Are Dead Makes High School Even Scarier

Image: JTBC Studios

Netflix has had a pretty good stack of South Korean shows lately. Squid Game took off as a big success, but if Kingdom and Hellbound are any indication, it’s Korean horror that the streaming service likes. Fortunately, they’ve got a new terrifying tale on the way in the form of the upcoming All of Us Are Dead.

The setup is fairly simple: a group of South Korean high schoolers have to band together to survive a zombie outbreak that’s begun at their school. Bad news: there’s a lot of students at the school, and it won’t be long before the infection naturally spreads to the rest of the city. But the good news is that the kids have seen zombie films (Train to Busan gets a shoutout) and know how to defend themselves, either with martial arts or whatever’s lying around in their school like archery equipment. With no food or way to contact their families, the kids are effectively on their own. While they do their best to survive, the high school teacher will be confronted about his connection to the accidental outbreak and what, if anything, can be done to prevent the world from being zombified.

Like Hellbound, the show is based on a Webtoon: 2009's Now at Our School by Joo Dong-geun. As far as zombie shows go, it looks pretty good, and seeing a horde rapidly shamble through the streets or hallways is indeed pretty terrifying. Big as they are, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed in a high school, which makes it a natural fit for such a terrifying premise.

All of Us Are Dead is one of several Korean dramas coming to the platform in 2022, along with a Korean remake of the Spanish crime drama Money Heist and the crime thriller Surname. The eight-episode season will hit Netflix on January 28.


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25/25 - It's Official: Y: The Last Man is Dead

Image: FX on Hulu

Back in October, FX on Hulu canceled Y: The Last Man just a few weeks before the end of its first season. Based on Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra’s 2005 Vertigo comic, the post-apocalyptic series starred Ben Schnetzer as Yorick, the last surviving cis male on the planet and his pet monkey as they travel the new world and come across different pockets of survivors. Showrunner Eliza Clark said at the time that she’d do her best to shop the well liked show to other networks or streamers and get a season two (or five). “We know that someone else is going to be very lucky to have this story,” she said back in October.

Sadly, those plans haven’t reached fruition. Friday afternoon, Clark confirmed on Twitter that despite her best efforts, the show won’t be going forward with another season. “It’s always incredibly difficult to move a show,” she wrote, “and in recent years, it’s only gotten harder...But sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.” In her thread, Clark said that the pitch for season two was “kickass,” and would’ve included some twists on the post-apocalyptic comic’s best stories. “Astronauts, anyone?”

Y was in development for a looooooong time, from originally being a film to multiple creative clashes, recastings, and the switching of rights. FX only begun developing the show in 2019, but the long time it took to get there is why the network chose to cut the show loose.

Though the show won’t be going forward, and she was admittedly hit “pretty hard” at the hard cancellation, Clark is still grateful for getting to tell Yorick’s story, brief as it was. “I got to adapt my favorite comic,” she wrote. “I got to have a show on TV...I hope you’ll still watch the show. That you’ll still tell your friends to watch it.”

You can watch the short-lived Y: The Last Man on FX on Hulu. Who knows, in this age of properties suddenly coming back, maybe we’ll see more of Yorick and Agent 355 someday.


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News

Slashdot

Items count = 15

1/15 - AMD Returns To Smartphone Graphics

AMD's GPU technology is returning to mobile handsets with Samsung's Exynos 2200 system-on-chip, which was announced on Tuesday. The Register reports: The Exynos 2200 processor, fabricated using a 4nm process, has Armv9 CPU cores and the oddly named Xclipse GPU, which is an adaptation of AMD's RDNA 2 mainstream GPU architecture. AMD was in the handheld GPU market until 2009, when it sold the Imageon GPU and handheld business for $65m to Qualcomm, which turned the tech into the Adreno GPU for its Snapdragon family. AMD's Imageon processors were used in devices from Motorola, Panasonic, Palm and others making Windows Mobile handsets. AMD's now returning to a more competitive mobile graphics market with Apple, Arm and Imagination also possessing homegrown smartphone GPUs. Samsung and AMD announced the companies were working together on graphics in June last year. With Exynos 2200, Samsung has moved on from Arm's Mali GPU family, which was in the predecessor Exynos 2100 used in the current flagship Galaxy smartphones. Samsung says the power-optimized GPU has hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which simulates lighting effects and other features to make gaming a better experience. [...] The Exynos 2200 has an image signal processor that can apparently handle 200-megapixel pictures and record 8K video. Other features include HDR10+ support, and 4K video decoding at up to 240fps or 8K decoding at up to 60fps. It supports display refresh rates of up to 144Hz. The eight-core CPU cluster features a balance of high-performing and power-efficient cores. It has one Arm Cortex-X2 flagship core, three Cortex-A710 big cores and four Cortex-A510s, which is in the same ballpark as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Mediatek's Dimensity 9000, which are the only other chips using Arm's Armv9 cores and are made using a 4nm process. An integrated 5G modem supports both sub-6GHz and millimeter wave bands, and a feature to mix LTE and 5G signals speeds up data transfers to 10Gbps. The chip also has a security processor and an AI engine that is said to be two times faster than its predecessor in the Exynos 2100.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


2/15 - NASA Scientists Estimate Tonga Blast At 10 Megatons

According to NASA researchers, the power of a massive volcanic eruption that took place on Saturday near the island nation of Tonga was equivalent to around 10 megatons of TNT. "That means the explosive force was more than 500 times as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II," reports NPR. From the report: The blast was heard as far away as Alaska and was probably one of the loudest events to occur on Earth in over a century, according to Michael Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "This might be the loudest eruption since [the eruption of the Indonesian volcano] Krakatau in 1883," Poland says. That massive 19th-century eruption killed thousands and released so much ash that it cast much of the region into darkness. But for all its explosive force, the eruption itself was actually relatively small, according to Poland, of the U.S. Geological Survey. Unlike the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which spewed ash and smoke for hours, the events at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai lasted less than 60 minutes. He does not expect that the eruption will cause any short-term changes to Earth's climate, the way other large eruptions have in the past. In fact, Poland says, the real mystery is how such a relatively small eruption could create such a big bang and tsunami.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


3/15 - China's Population May Start To Shrink This Year, New Birth Data Suggest

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science.org: After many decades of growth, China's population could begin to shrink this year, suggest data released yesterday by China's National Bureau of Statistics. The numbers show that in 2021, China's birth rate fell for the fifth year in a row, to a record low of 7.52 per 1000 people. Based on that number, demographers estimate the country's total fertility rate -- the number of children a person will bear over their lifetime -- is down to about 1.15, well below the replacement rate of 2.1 and one of the lowest in the world. Young couples are deciding against having more children, "despite all the new initiatives and propaganda to promote childbearing," says Yong Cai, a demographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "China's population decline will be rapid," he predicts. The shift from growth to decline has happened startlingly fast. Projections made just a few years ago suggested China's population would expand until around 2027. Last year, when it announced results from the 2020 census, the statistics bureau still pegged the total fertility rate at 1.3. The report also found that China is becoming ever more urbanized, "with nearly 65% of the population now living in urban areas, up 0.8 percentage points from 2020," reports Science.org. The crowded housing, high living costs, and exorbitant education expenses all "reduce people's willingness to have a second child, let alone a third child," says Wei Guo, a demographer at Nanjing University.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


4/15 - Chemical Pollution Has Passed Safe Limit For Humanity, Say Scientists

The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends, scientists have said. The Guardian reports: Plastics are of particularly high concern, they said, along with 350,000 synthetic chemicals including pesticides, industrial compounds and antibiotics. Plastic pollution is now found from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans, and some toxic chemicals, such as PCBs, are long-lasting and widespread. The study concludes that chemical pollution has crossed a "planetary boundary", the point at which human-made changes to the Earth push it outside the stable environment of the last 10,000 years. Determining whether chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary is complex because there is no pre-human baseline, unlike with the climate crisis and the pre-industrial level of CO2 in the atmosphere. There are also a huge number of chemical compounds registered for use -- about 350,000 -- and only a tiny fraction of these have been assessed for safety. So the research used a combination of measurements to assess the situation. These included the rate of production of chemicals, which is rising rapidly, and their release into the environment, which is happening much faster than the ability of authorities to track or investigate the impacts. The well-known negative effects of some chemicals, from the extraction of fossil fuels to produce them to their leaking into the environment, were also part of the assessment. The scientists acknowledged the data was limited in many areas, but said the weight of evidence pointed to a breach of the planetary boundary. [...] The researchers said stronger regulation was needed and in the future a fixed cap on chemical production and release, in the same way carbon targets aim to end greenhouse gas emissions. Their study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. "The rise of the chemical burden in the environment is diffuse and insidious," said Prof Sir Ian Boyd at the University of St Andrews. "Even if the toxic effects of individual chemicals can be hard to detect, this does not mean that the aggregate effect is likely to be insignificant." "Regulation is not designed to detect or understand these effects. We are relatively blind to what is going on as a result. In this situation, where we have a low level of scientific certainty about effects, there is a need for a much more precautionary approach to new chemicals and to the amount being emitted to the environment."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


5/15 - Some Roku Smart TVs Are Now Showing Banner Ads Over Live TV

Some Roku smart TV owners are seeing banner ads appear over live content, according to a thread on the r/cordcutters subreddit. Ars Technica reports: [A photo posted by the Reddit user] shows a Sharp TV running Roku software and displaying an ad for a bed over a live sports broadcast, plus a prompt to 'press OK to get offer.' These ads don't seem to appear on Roku's own hardware, like the Roku Ultra, Express, Streambar, or Streaming Stick. Rather, they show up on certain smart TVs running the Roku TV platform -- and it might just be certain brands, like Sharp. Some owners of TCL Roku TVs commented that they had not seen the ads. Fortunately, users in the thread reported that the feature can be disabled in privacy settings. But it's possible that doing so may disable other Roku features.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


6/15 - Winter Olympics: Athletes Advised To Use Burner Phones In Beijing

New submitter sperm shares a report from the BBC: The Beijing Winter Olympics app that all Games attendees must use contains security weaknesses that leave users exposed to data breaches, analysts say. The My2022 app will be used by athletes, audience members and media for daily Covid monitoring. The app will also offer voice chats, file transfers and Olympic news. But cybersecurity group Citizen Lab says the app fails to provide encryption on many of its files. China has dismissed the concerns. Questions about the app come amid a rise in warnings about visitors' tech security ahead of the Games, which begin on 4 February. People attending the Beijing Olympics should bring burner phones and create email accounts for their time in China, cyber security firm Internet 2.0 said on Tuesday. Several countries have also reportedly told athletes to leave their main devices at home. The report also says that it's found a "censorship keywords" list built into the app, and a feature that allows people to flag other "politically sensitive" expressions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


7/15 - Israeli Citizens Targeted By Police Using Pegasus Spyware, Report Claims

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The Israeli police allegedly conducted warrantless phone intercepts of Israeli citizens, including politicians and activists, using the NSO group's controversial Pegasus spyware, according to an investigation by the Israeli business media site Calcalist. Among those described as having been targets in the report were local mayors, leaders of political protests against the former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former government employees. According to the report, the surveillance was done without the court supervision required for Israeli citizens and without monitoring of how the data was used, a claim denied explicitly by the Israeli police service and a government minister. A separate report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, based on an invoice seen by the paper, suggested the Israeli police was invoiced by NSO group for 2.7m shekels ($862,000) in 2013, apparently for a basic version of the program. While numerous reports have emerged over the misuse of Pegasus, which is designed and sold by Israel's NSO group to foreign governments, the latest claims mark a major departure in suggesting that Israelis were also targeted for interception. The Guardian understands from sources familiar with NSO's licensing that while that means foreign third-party clients to whom it has sold its software cannot target US and Israeli phone numbers from abroad, an Israeli law enforcement client that purchased the spyware -- for instance the police service -- would be able to target Israeli phones. While the report does not mention its sources, it claims that the order to use the spyware was given by senior officers and carried out by police electronic interception specialists. The claim is highly significant because for the first time it counters assurances given to Israelis that they could not be targeted by Pegasus and would appear to question the understanding that Israelis are protected from warrantless intrusion. The Jerusalem Post adds: "[This] astounding report, if true, would blow gaping holes through a number of NSO, police and potentially state prosecution narratives about the proper balance between collecting evidence and respecting citizens' privacy rights and court protections from unlawful searches and seizures."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


8/15 - Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Will Reportedly Leave the Company After Microsoft Acquisition Closes

Earlier today, Microsoft announced it will buy the video game publisher Activision Blizzard in a $69 billion deal. It's the largest video game acquisition in history and will make Microsoft the world's third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony, when and if the deal closes. According to Insider, citing a report from the Wall Street Journal, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is expected to leave the company once the deal closes. From the report: Those sources said that both Microsoft and Activision have agreed that Kotick "will depart once the deal closes," which could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months. That's in stark contrast to what Microsoft said in its press release on Tuesday morning. "Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard," the release said, "and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company's culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming." Kotick reportedly knew for years about a variety of claims of sexual harassment and rape at his company. An investigation by the Wall Street Journal detailed several specific examples of harassment and rape at Activision. Kotick was not only aware of those claims but, in a least one instance, reportedly intervened to keep a male staffer who was accused of sexual harassment despite the company's human resources department recommending he be fired.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


9/15 - Felony Charges Are 1st In a Fatal Crash Involving Autopilot

X2b5Ysb8 shares a report from ABC News: California prosecutors have filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against the driver of a Tesla on Autopilot who ran a red light, slammed into another car and killed two people in 2019. The defendant appears to be the first person to be charged with a felony in the United States for a fatal crash involving a motorist who was using a partially automated driving system. Los Angeles County prosecutors filed the charges in October, but they came to light only last week. The driver, Kevin George Aziz Riad, 27, has pleaded not guilty. Riad, a limousine service driver, is free on bail while the case is pending. The misuse of Autopilot, which can control steering, speed and braking, has occurred on numerous occasions and is the subject of investigations by two federal agencies. The filing of charges in the California crash could serve notice to drivers who use systems like Autopilot that they cannot rely on them to control vehicles. The criminal charges aren't the first involving an automated driving system, but they are the first to involve a widely used driver technology.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


10/15 - The PinePhone Pro Brings Upgraded Hardware To the Linux Phone

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Pine64 is launching a major hardware upgrade in its quest to build a Linux smartphone. After the launch of the original PinePhone in 2019, the organization is now taking preorders for the PinePhone Pro, a new smartphone it's calling "the fastest mainline Linux smartphone on the market." The phone was announced in October, and you can now secure a unit. The MSRP is $599, but it's up for preorder now at an introductory price of $399. Since Pine64 wants to make an open source Linux smartphone, its choice of hardware components is limited. Most big chip companies like Qualcomm or Samsung don't want to share open drivers or schematics, and you saw that with the original PinePhone, which was based on a 40 nm Cortex A53 SoC made by Allwinner. The PinePhone Pro is upgrading things with a Rockchip RK3399 SoC. The chip sports two Cortex A72 CPUs and four Cortex A53 CPUs, and Pine64 says it worked with Rockchip to get the chip "binned and voltage locked for optimal performance with sustainable power and thermal limits." Pine64 doesn't cite a process node, but other companies list the RK3399 at 28 nm. If that's true and you're looking for something roughly comparable in Qualcomm's lineup, the Snapdragon 618/650 (a mid-range chip from 2016) would seem to fit the bill. The phone has a 6-inch, 1440x720 LCD, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of eMMC storage, and a 3,000 mAh battery. There's a USB-C port with 15 W charging, a headphone jack, a 13MP main camera, and an 8MP front camera. The back cover pops off, and inside the phone, you'll find a removable battery (whoa!), a microSD slot, pogo pins, and a series of privacy DIP switches that let you kill the modem, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, microphone, rear camera, front camera, and headphones. The pogo pins support a variety of attachable backs, which are compatible with both the original PinePhone and the PinePhone Pro. [...] As for the software you'll be running on this thing, that's up to you. This is a phone for the Linux enthusiast who is willing to deal with some rough edges. It ships with Manjaro Arm and the Plasma Mobile interface, which Pine64 calls "pre-beta."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


11/15 - Spice DAO Bought a Rare Copy of Jodorowsky's 'Dune' for $3 Million. They May Have Misunderstood Copyright Laws, Though

The Morning Brew: As Frank Herbert wrote in Dune, "The real universe is always one step beyond logic." Case in point: a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) spent $3 million on a rare copy of a proposed Dune adaptation, allegedly with the misguided idea that owning the book would also grant them the rights to its content. Some background: In 1974, director Alejandro Jodorowsky printed 20 copies of an exhaustive book that contained the script and concept art for his 14-hour film adaptation of Herbert's Dune. This film was ultimately scrapped, due to its budget, but the book became the stuff of legend. Fast forward to November 2021 and Spice DAO, a blockchain collective, bought a copy of the book at auction for $3 million, around 100x its expected price. On Sunday, the DAO tweeted that they intended to do three things with the book: 1. Make it public 2. Produce an animated series based on it 3. Support community projects An inspiring plan, with a few major roadblocks: 1) Spice DAO only purchased the book, not the rights to its content, which would be needed to create an animated series. 2) The book is already public, and available to browse on Google Photos.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


12/15 - Democrats Unveil Bill To Ban Online 'Surveillance Advertising'

Democrats introduced a new bill that would ban nearly all use of digital advertising targeting on ad markets hosted by platforms like Facebook, Google, and other data brokers. From a report: The Banning Surveillance Advertising Act -- sponsored by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) -- prohibits digital advertisers from targeting any ads to users. It makes some small exceptions, like allowing for "broad" location-based targeting. Contextual advertising, like ads that are specifically matched to online content, would be allowed. "The 'surveillance advertising' business model is premised on the unseemly collection and hoarding of personal data to enable ad targeting," Eshoo, the bill's lead sponsor, said in a Tuesday statement. "This pernicious practice allows online platforms to chase user engagement at great cost to our society, and it fuels disinformation, discrimination, voter suppression, privacy abuses, and so many other harms. The surveillance advertising business model is broken."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


13/15 - YouTube Will Stop Making Most Original Shows

YouTube will scale back a significant portion of YouTube Originals, which produced original content including scripted series, educational videos, and music and celebrity programming. Chief business officer for YouTube Robert Kyncl announced the changes today in a statement on Twitter. From a report: Going forward, the company will only fund originals in the YouTube Kids Fund and the Black Voices Fund, a program created in 2020 that committed $100 million to "amplify" Black creators on the platform. "With rapid growth comes new opportunities and now our investments can make a greater impact on even more creators when applied towards other initiatives, like our Creator Shorts Fund, Black Voices Fund, and Live Shopping programming to name a few," the statement reads. YouTube Originals has changed approaches throughout the years.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


14/15 - Apple Tells US Senators Tech Bills Will Harm iPhone Privacy

Apple warned U.S. senators that bipartisan antitrust legislation aimed at curbing the power of big technology companies would harm the privacy and security of American iPhone users if enacted into law. From a report: On Tuesday, Apple sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, the panel's ranking Republican Chuck Grassley, Antitrust Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar, and the subcommittee's ranking Republican, Mike Lee. The letter, which was obtained by Bloomberg News, underscores Apple's continued push to protect its App Store from government oversight and changes that would disrupt its business model. "After a tumultuous year that witnessed multiple controversies regarding social media, whistle-blower allegations of long-ignored risks to children, and ransomware attacks that hobbled critical infrastructure, it would be ironic if Congress responds by making it much harder to protect the privacy and security of Americans' personal devices," Tim Powderly, Apple's senior director of government affairs, said in the letter. "Unfortunately, that is what these bills would do."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


15/15 - Open Source Developers, Who Work for Free, Are Discovering They Have Power

Owen Williams, writing for TechCrunch: [...] As a result, it shouldn't be a surprise that some open source developers are beginning to realize they wield outsized power, despite the lack of compensation they receive for their work, because their projects are used by some of the largest, most profitable companies in the world. In early January, for example, Marak Squires, the developer of two popular NPM packages, 'colors' and 'faker,' intentionally introduced changes to their code that broke their functionality for anyone using them, outputting "LIBERTY LIBERTY LIBERTY" followed by gibberish and an infinite loop when used. While Squires didn't comment on the reason for making the changes, he had previously said on GitHub that "I am no longer going to support Fortune 500s ( and other smaller sized companies ) with my free work." Squires' changes broke other popular projects, including Amazon's Cloud Development Kit, as his libraries were installed almost 20 million times per week on npm, with thousands of projects directly depending on them. Within a few hours, NPM had rolled back the rogue release and GitHub suspended the developer's account in response. While NPM's response was to be expected after previous incidents in which malicious code was added to libraries and was ultimately rolled back to limit damage, GitHub's was a new one: the code hosting platform took down Squires' entire account, even though he was the owner of the code and was his rights to change it as he pleased. This isn't the first time a developer has pulled their code in protest, either. The developer of 'left-pad' pulled his code from NPM in 2016, breaking tens of thousands of websites that depended on it following a fight with the Kik messenger over the naming of another open source project he owned. What's astonishing is that despite the occasional high-profile libraries protesting the way the industry works, these types of incidents aren't all that common: open source developers continue to work for free, maintaining their projects as best they can, even though multi-million dollar products being created off of the back of their work.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


News

Luke Smith

Items count = 57

1/57 - Important notes for LARBS users

Two notes for LARBS users:

  1. Xorg went through some updates last week that changed how it calculates dots-per-inch (DPI) on screens. There's a chance that you might update and find your font extra large or small. If so, you can just manually add xrandr --dpi 96 to the beginning of your xprofile to set the DPI to the typical 96 (or whatever number looks best).
  2. I have no switched new installs of LARBS from using Pulseaudio to Pipewire as an audio backend, although it will also come with pipewire-pulse to maintain compatibility with Pulseaudio programs. If you would like to update the dotfiles, remember to install the pipewire and pipewire-pulse packages. There should be no major difference in user experience, although using Pipewire will avoid some silly Pulseaudio bugs.


2/57 - Obscenities are symptoms of weak minds.

Over the past few years, I made the decision to totally cut obscenities out from my speech. You might actually be able to find recordings of me cursing four or five years ago, but as of now, I really stand by my decision.

Obscenities are the linguistic equivalent of an trashy emaciated person entirely decked in tattoos, smoking cigarettes and wearing a shirt with nudity on it. They'll defend what they do on the idea that it's someone "their right," or "expression," as if they do what they do for some lofty philosophical reason. What everyone else sees is a person who is not in control of themselves or their vices, in fact, someone who views their vices as a good thing.

There's the atomistic and nihilistic tendency to give an "intellectual" argument for obscenities: "What's so special," the argument goes, "about obscenities in English? They're just a combination of arbitrary sounds! They don't have some objective magical harm in them."

But the "arbitrary sounds" in an obscenity do indeed have a special place in human psychology. Obscenities are produced and processed in the brain quite differently from non-obscene language, involving the more animalistic/reptilian parts of the brain. When assembling a well-thought out case, there is really never a temptation to litter it with curses.

When a person curses, it's a direct indication that they are thinking on a lower, more reactive, more emotional level.

I get a lot of email every day and most I don't answer for time constraints. I've gotten good at filtering out emails, and I have realized that obscenities are one of the best indications of a low quality content. I haven't gone so far as to totally block curse words with Spam Assassin, but it is genuinely rare that I receive an email of any quality with obscenities.

All of this is to say that obscenities are a great indication of reactive thinking. When someone is cursing, he is thinking at least in part like an animal. In deciding not to curse, I have decided to be quiet first, then only evaluate things calmly afterwards.

For me, there is extra reason not to curse because I am in a position of an exemplar for many people on the internet. The internet is full of "snarky" people cursing profusely and creating the idea that all "famous" people should be highly arrogant and emotional.

There might be times when it's proper for someone to react in righteous anger, but those are in reality so rare as to only happen in life-and-death situations. Instead, a lot of modern nihilism is becoming just as emotionally transfixed on minor slights and imaginary problems, thus one spews out curses as if one is fighting some kind of crusade. This makes profuse cursers not only the type of people who are reactive and hard to relate to, but indicates how disordered their priorities are.


3/57 - Every Web Browser Absolutely Sucks.

The title explains it all, you don't even have to read.

There are no good, even passable web browsers. None. Not a single one even comes close.

The weird thing is this: making a good browser should be easy! Among the existing web browsers, you could assemble all the parts necessary for a passable (if not perfect) browser. No one has ever bothered to do this, instead, people assembled 90% good stuff and 10% junk.

Here I will list:

  1. Features a passable browser must have.
  2. Features a good browser must have.

Again, no browser out there has all the traits of even a passable browser, but we might as well list them all here for the record.

Features a Passable Browser must have.

It must actually work on the modern web.

Sorry terminal browsers. lynx, w3m, you're out. There is some role for you in scripting and dumping HTML email as standard output, but no can get along using a terminal browser unless they are purposefully limiting themselves to a very small segment of the modern web. I wish this weren't the case, but it is.

Sorry also to niche independent browsers like Dillo. Nice concept, but not usable. I don't think Dillo can even handle my simple modern CSS on my website.

Free and open source software.

No reason to explain this. Absolutely insane to use a program to browse the internet whose source code isn't publicly auditable.

No unsolicited connections.

This will be literally the easiest point to comply with, but also the rarest thing in browsers:

Don't automatically connect to Google.com or Brave.org or some stupid start page or analytics page or Cloudflare or any other site on when I open the browser or at anytime while browsing unless I type the address in my URL bar.

Don't automatically connect to an "autoupdate" site, and especially don't pull updates from it.

Don't send analytics. Don't make analytics. Actually, don't even ask me if I want to opt in to "bug reports," I don't. If something breaks, I'll tell you.

If you want analytics, I want you to beg for it on an obscure Settings page. Tell me your sob story about how it helps you get funding. And I will still not give you analytics because I don't let my file manager, email client, music player, video player, text editor or any other random program monitor me for no reason, least of all will I allow a browser, which often handles the most sensitive information.

It's a statement of just how bad the browser market is that this is even something we're talking about.

Ad-blocking must come with the browser.

No one opens up a browser to view ads. This is just not why browsers exist. No human in all of humanity has benefited from involuntary ads. 100% of people would be better off with browsers without ads, therefore, a sensible browser should block ads.

This is no more controversial than saying that if you rent a server from a company, it should come with sensible defaults, like an operating system, a solid root password that a Chinese script-kiddy isn't going to guess and maybe a firewall.

Ad-blocking must be universal, so should other sensible "add-ons"/features. HTTPS everywhere is a sensible universal browser feature as well. There are no places where using HTTP is preferrable to using HTTPS if available. If there are reasons to ever use HTTP only or to view ads, they are so rare as to hide them away in the Settings Menu.

Brave (Le Shill Lion) has at least done us the favor of blocking ads by default (it also has HTTPS everywhere). Qutebrowser has a notional hosts ad-blocker that allegedly blocks I guess some things, but you will still get an add-full browsing experience. GNU Icecat has a lot of sensible default add-ons (I forget if it blocks ads by default), but in truth, only developers have any reasons to use bare browsers without ad-blockers and other basic add-ons.

Basic options!

How long has Google Chrome and its clones been around? A decade? Why has literally no one in that period had a problem with the fact that none of these browsers have an option to not store history!

No, not Incognito mode, I want to keep cookies, but I don't want stupid browsing history showing up whenever I start typing.

No, I don't just want you to not suggest previous sites, but still store them all for some reason.

Thankfully, Firefox browsers at least have this basic option. Brave does too. Ungoogled Chromium doesn't. Useless. I like that it doesn't send my browsing history to Google and all, but I also don't want it broadcasting it to the people over my shoulder when I type a url. I honestly imagine that the mandatory "we must keep history" aspect of Chrome is subtle social engineering. "Oh you shouldn't have that choice, you want everything you do to be stored for reference!"

Internet browser history is really obsolete.

For normies on the modern web, there is really less and less purpose of browsing history with every passing year. In the better days of the internet, back when people actually browsed the internet and you would see dozens or hundreds of different websites a day, there is kind of a use to a constant log of history, in case you vaguely remember seeing a site, but couldn't remember how you got there and you couldn't search because there were no search engines.

Web history is basically obsolete for 99% of people because:

  1. They use only Facebook or two other sites and quite simply never see any of the rest of the internet.
  2. Bookmarks exist and are widely used for the few sites people do use.
  3. People can use a search engine to find a site.
  4. They are daily watching porn or simping for instathots or doing other abominable things for which they will be erasing their internet history anyway.

No clutter in the browser experience and Neutrality

Brave. Lol.

I complimented Brave for adding ad-blockers to their browser by default. The issue is that they also continually add more and more and more stuff to their browser of extremely niche orientation in every single update.

Update Brave and there'll be some new Crypto gadget on the main screen which is probably making some kind of unsolicited connections to something or another. Brave has been dutiful enough to allow everything to be disabled, but none of this is browsing related. I want a browser. Stop giving me stuff that's not a browser. That's why I liked the idea of the ad-block, but it looks like Brave will need a feature-block as well.

Aside from Brave, about every browser from Pale Meme to unJewgled Chromium has a distracting stupid start page that advertises your history or suggests inane sites. When I open a fresh browser window, unless I have specifically created an HTML page which I have set as my homepage, I want to see a clean virgin page. I don't want to see giant soy blocks that show a links to my bank account or the Bitchute documentaries I was just watching. If I want to get there quick, I'll bookmark it, thank you.

I want a browser to be neutral, not personalized. Or at least neutral by default. I don't want it to advertise new features and software. I don't want it to change when I visit a site.

Do not clutter home!

Browsers routinely make messes in home directories. XDG Compliance. Know these directories:

This is where stuff goes so 100 useless folders don't clog up your home when you ls -a. No one seems to have told this to browser developers.

Chromium browsers give you this useless ~/.pki/ directory. If you're using a Furryfox clone, they are going to force at least ~/.mozilla/ on you, but you'll also get something else. Installed Librewolf? You'll get ~/.librewolf/ too.

I don't know how hardcoded Google and Mozilla made this annoyance, but if you can deGoogle Chrome, you can use the proper XDG directories.

Dishonorable mention definitely goes to Pale Moon. Being an independent browser, you would think they would jump at being less annoying. Nope: ~/.Moonchild Productions right in your home directory. Capital letters and whitespace: a big eff-yew to Unix-based operating systems. (I think they made this lower-case now?)

Must be written in a sensible language.

Aw, Dang!

Sorry, Qutebrowser, you thought you could make it all the way right?

Hey, that's okay, there are a lot of great aspects to being written in Python: it's easier for people to play around with your config file and script things into it, but let's be real: you're slow and buggy and take way more system resources than a browser written in C or C++. That's just not going to cut it for a mainstream browser that old boomers are going to be watching YouTube and Netflix in with 250 other open tabs.

Maybe if you were written in Go? Or maybe you could get compiled in Cython or something? Idk, but as it is, it ain't cutting it.

Of course I realize that Qutebrowser does basically everything else well. If I had a computer with more CPU power and RAM, I might use Qutebrowser. It has gotten a lot better over the years.


Features a Good Browser must have.

Now that we've ascended past the summits of the bare minimum, we might as well discuss what additional features every browser should have.

A config file.

I don't care if only 2% of people know what a configuration file is, you need one. You can keep your Settings menu for normies, but it's nuts that browsers think it's okay to get by without a configuration file.

Once someone has their browser configured, all they have to do if they change computers or want to replicate their settings is to move one file. Or for someone like me, who has people wanting to install my system configuration a lot, it would be convenient to be able to have a single text message that assembles a browser with sensible settings. You just can do that though. You can sorta-kinda do that with some Furryfox settings, but for a Chromium browser, forget about it.

Either way, there needs to be a simple text file that can handle setting settings, like:

Config files, even if 2% of people are going to use them now open up a new world of sharable and editable settings. This will solve a lot of tech support issues as well, frankly.

Actually...

After the configuration file, every other feature a browser should have comes for free. For example, it would be nice to get vim-like key-bindings for mouseless browsing, but that is really dealt with custom key-binds (and I suppose a link hint feature).

In general, I feel that once you have the sensible defaults above and configuration file, you really have everything. Browsers suddenly become programs with the same level of usability and customizability and non-egregiousness of every other program on the computer.


Summary

A browser...

  1. Must actually work.
  2. Must be free and open source software.
  3. Must make no unsollicited connections.
  4. Must block unsollicited ads and other sensible defaults.
  5. Must have sensible options for history and cookies.
  6. Must not be cluttered by features irrelevant to browsing.
  7. Must not clutter the filesystem.
  8. Must be written in a fast language light on system resources.
  9. Must have a configuration file.

Tell me when a browser finally meets these requirements.


4/57 - Bringing back old-school web pins and buttons

Back in the not-quite-as-bad-old-days (at least as far back as the 90's), every good website had a small "ad" gif that fans of the site could use as a colorful link. These are called "buttons" or sometimes "pins."

Most people would have dozens of these at the bottom of their site, linking to all their favorite sites, back when people actually linked to things because search engines hadn't taken over the internet.

The only rules are:

  1. It has to be 88 by 31 pixels.
  2. It has to be a .gif.
  3. And it should be animated, colorful or memorable (but some people do the gray ones to be ironic or boring).

Since we're all trying to Reject the Modernity of the current internet, I figure I should do my part to bring these back.

I made a little button for LARBS, which you can see here:

LARBS

Nice, simple, noticeable and memorable. Best of all, at 88x31, it's very small. Adding dozens of these to your site is a great way to link creatively without using more than 90's bandwidth. After I get a good collection of them, I might link my favorite sites with them.

So I encourage you to make some of these for sites you like. You're even welcome to make some for my sites: LandChad.net, Not Related, heck, even Based.Cooking, or even my personal website for that matter.

I might talk about these things in a video later because it's one of those aethetical niceities that has been lost to time.

(PS: GIMP can make gifs, look it up, and remember to "Optimize for gifs" after you're almost done to make the filesize super low.)


5/57 - Important: LindyPress undergoing some updates

Although I haven't announced in a video on the YouTube channel yet, I'm glad that there's been a lot of interest in LindyPress.net. I haven't done a video on it just because there are some details in the site coding we're still figuring out, but books are already printing, shipping and arriving at some of your houses.

Just a couple technical notes:

In general, the site is working great, and once we're sure it's bugfree, I'll announce it on the channel and start adding more and more books. I have many underway already.


6/57 - YouTube stream now

I'll be streaming on YouTube momentarily: https://youtu.be/Aj6-ASqhSEY


7/57 - The classical book reprinting site is live! LindyPress.net

For a while, I've hinted that I've been contributing to a project to reprint out-of-print classical and medieval texts that are of hidden value, sometimes even in their original languages. I've worked on this project for a while and now it's live and you can browse the first five books available.

See the site at https://lindypress.net. All works have been reformatted in XeLaTeX so that the text is grade-A in readability and has nice little flourishes to make it a little more elegant. A lot of other reprinting companies have their work done with less care.

Here are a list of the books available now:

Check out the site for more information.

The site accepts either credit cards or Bitcoin/Monero/Ethereum for payment. It works with the lightning network too.

(Note that this uses a print-on-demand service, so you might take a couple days to print your books.)

I will make this site known on my YouTube channel in several days, but for now, you can browse and get what you want.

There are many other books already in the works, but email me with suggestions for more if you have them.

I really want to focus on things that are nearly impossible to find in print in a presentable way. Compilations are also possible, similar to the encyclical compilation.


8/57 - Matrix vs. XMPP

The Chad XMPP

What are XMPP and Matrix and what makes them special?

XMPP and Matrix are two decentralized and federated free sofware projects for chat, including true end-to-end encrypted chat.

Users can either install the software on their own server if they want, but they can also easily register on any public server—both allow any XMPP or Matrix user to talk to users on their server or on any other one. In essence, it works like email: you might have an email account on a different site than your friend, but all accounts on all sites can communicate.

In a world where most communication is done on centralized proprietary platforms without end-to-end encryption like Facebook, Telegram and Google, Matrix and XMPP both are permanent solutions to communication privacy. Even based boomerware like IRC has to play second fiddle to them.

The only question is, "Which is better? XMPP or Matrix?"

Matrix vs. XMPP: Which is better?

After timely research and experience, I will say that XMPP is superior to Matrix. I'll talk about why here, but I'll firstly discuss Matrix's apparent advantages over XMPP.

There are some use-cases where Matrix is preferrable to use and Matrix is somewhat easier for normal people to start using. However, Matrix, although it is still end-to-end encrypted has larger metadata liabilities. Although Matrix is decentralized, there are many issues that make it too reliant on the "main" Matrix.org server. It also has more significant problems in that metadata is spread from server to server.

Matrix's advantages over XMPP

Matrix is more normie friendly.

Although there are many Matrix clients out there, there is one "primary" one, Element (formerly called Riot). Element is a lot more streamlined and easier to use than most all other clients, and it is available on all platforms. This is because it is an odious Electron-based application, but that it is a big advantage to be able to tell your friends just about one program they can use on all platforms.

Matrix now comes End-to-end encrypted by default.

The standard Matrix-Synapse server now encrypts all chats and private rooms with end-to-end encryption by default. This is not the case for most XMPP servers. For example, OMEMO encryption can be used with XMPP servers, but it usually requires extra setting up and many XMPP clients do not have proper or easy compatibility with default End-to-end encryption (you may have to manually select to encrypt communications for each chat).

Matrix's default functionality is more "intuitive."

If someone sends you a message, you expect it to show up on all your devices, not just the one that checks first. When you install a new application on your phone, you sort of expect it to be able to view previous conversations in the chat. XMPP does not necessarily work like this by default (I should say that some XMPP servers do allow this), but in general Matrix chats are really more like entire chat histories that multiple people can edit and sync.

This makes Matrix a lot more familiar in functionality to old AOL/Google chats, or things like Discord or Telegram, which people are used to and find convenient. XMPP can indeed do all this, but it requires more setting up, and you are more likely to run into unexpected things when setting it up yourself.

XMPP's advantages over Matrix

But all that said, as I said above, XMPP is better than Matrix.

XMPP servers are easier to manage than Matrix.

The default Matrix server software is atrocious. Trying to do something "simple" like deleting a user account from the command line is frustration. You might have to open up databases yourself and do it manually. There is a distinct lack of configuration options in Matrix compared to XMPP servers and XMPP server usually have a good command-line interface to do basic things.

XMPP is lightweight. Matrix is big bloatware.

I just logged into a VPS where I host both a Matrix and an XMPP server. It has about 1G of RAM. Right now, 27.7% of my memory is hogged by the Matrix server, while the XMPP server is only using 1.4%. That makes Matrix a major resource hog, while XMPP is the kind of thing you can spin up on your already-existing VPS and not really have to worry about it.

This is no big surprise because the default Matrix server is soyware written in Python. While the Matrix team is allegedly working on a better non-Python server-side, XMPP already has many different kinds of server software to choose from, some of the more popular ones being ejabberd and Prosody IM.

Matrix is less decentralized.

This might be somewhat related to the above issue, but very few people actually run their own Matrix servers and instead, just use Matrix.org, which is the Matrix server of the official company. This means that policies and blocks issued by Matrix the organization can functionally disconnect who they want from most Matrix users.

Additionally, the default settings in the Matrix server configuration use matrix.org and vector.im. These sites thus get a lot of independent metadata from other unsuspecting instances.

Matrix is a metadata disaster.

It gets worse. Because Matrix doesn't really just exchange individual messages, but because it syncs entire chats to all involved servers, this means that while all messages might be end-to-end encrypted, the conversation metadata is known to all servers, including what accounts are involved, when messages are sent and other account information made public (for example, users can add their emails and phone numbers to their accounts). See more here.

That means that all Matrix servers, especially Matrix.org, has a huge repository of metadata. Although chats are thankfully encrypted, encrypted chat logs are synced between all relevant servers, spreading metadata far and wide, and nearly always back to Matrix.org.

Privacy with Matrix used to be even worse. Passwords used to be verified on a centralized identity server, and much more.

You're probably wondering how any of this could get any worse...

   

...

   

Take a guess...

   

...

   

🇮🇱 Matrix is linked to Israeli intelligence! 🇮🇱

Matrix was developed and funded by a company Amdocs. Amdocs is an Israeli company that has since moved to America and has near total knowledge of American telephone communications.

You can read about the fun history of Amdocs here. More about Matrix and Amdocs here.

Since American telephone records have "mysteriously" fallen into the hands of Israel, there are many questions as how this has happened. Perhaps this Israeli company which has had many Israeli military and intelligence officers involved with it and which also has all American telephone records might be involved?

Actually, this is just like Matrix. Amdocs does not have access to telephone audio (so far as I know), they only traffic in metadata (when calls are made and between whom). Matrix functions the same way. Chats are at least end-to-end encrypted (which still puts this Israeli honeypot lightyears ahead of proprietary spyware like Telegram), but Matrix metadata is easily available to server administrators.

Now to be clear, formally, since 2017, Amdocs no longer is the open sponsor of Matrix. It is instead funded by a break-off organization called Vector. But Matrix/Vector has somehow remained very, very well-funded for a "community-driven" project: they raised $8.5 million, that's a lot for free stuff! Crowd-funding for relatively unknown open source software projects is apparently much more lucrative than I thought!

In conclusion

Matrix is federated and free software which is end-to-end encrypted, but it's bloated and the company behind it might be a privacy danger. Using Matrix is indisputably better than using Telegram or Google or Facebook on nearly every count, but XMPP outclasses Matrix on pretty much everything.

XMPP is minimal software that is easy to run on a small server. It requires more setup time and has the Linux-like "problem" of there being a lot of "fragmentation" (i.e. choices), but XMPP is a much better long-term tool despite the fact that it might require you to set a couple more settings to get it how you want. XMPP is also more scalable and customizeable.

I do run a Matrix server because I had to move some Telegram-using friends to something better and I was worried that the world of XMPP might be a little much. Retrospectively, I think I could've just switched them to XMPP, and I might still in the future, but Matrix is simpler for people to grasp and install if they don't know too much about computers.

How the XMPP environment can be improved

It would be very nice to have a cross-platform XMPP chat platform. Obviously I don't want Electron trash like Matrix's Element (although Element is intuitive enough), but when I say cross-platform, that might just be several different XMPP clients (one Linux, one Android, one iOS, etc.) that decide to go for similar design principles and branding. This might sound stupid, but it makes the environment accessible to people unfamiliar with it because they know that one program (or "branding") they can look up and recomend friends.

Other note

I suspect some people will be a little upset I "only" talked about Matrix and XMPP as chat protocols. In reality, both are highly extensible and can to many more things. I'll talk about that when I feel it's relevant, but most people looking into them are looking for an actually secure chat system.


9/57 - Late livestream on YouTube ASAP

Link is here: https://youtu.be/OU84HrX8D8Q

I'll begin before the top of the hour.


10/57 - I appeared on Monero Talk

I was invited to be interviewed on Monero Talk and it's just been released. Monero Talk is a podcast on, well... Monero the actually private cryptocurrency, which I've written and done videos on in the past.

See the full interview on one of the following:

We discuss a lot of topic on private and free/open source monetary technology and dab on Boomercoiners. Some topics of discussion:

I might post segmented clips of it later if I find something notable when I watch it.


11/57 - Livestream on YouTube right now

Link here: https://youtu.be/GZi0gmDcuAc


12/57 - Odysee stream over, worked well!

Just finished by first stream on LBRY/Odysee. If you missed it, don't sweat it, we didn't talk about anything too interesting, just trying Odysee's new streaming abilities.

There was some bandwidth problems on my end, but Odysee itself seemed to handle the stream very well.


13/57 - Testing out the Odysee Livestreaming; Check it out NOW!

As the title says, see here: https://odysee.com/@Luke:7/nginx-restream-luke-smith-test:b


14/57 - Modern "Freedom" Means Being a Slave to Impulses

What does freedom mean?

See this article in video form here.

Which of the following two people is more free:

  1. A drug addict.
  2. A average man who is only not a drug addict because he lives in a country where drugs are regulated or shamed in a way to make them hard to obtain.

Most modern people will have a kind of cognitive dissonance, a kind of glitch in their matrix here. In the modern view of freedom, freedom means the ability to do what you want without the government or society telling you what to do, so (1), the drug addict, should be more "free."

But at the same time, this feels wrong. (2) probably lives a better life. He is more suited to make more and better decisions. Someone addicted to drugs is highly constrained in the kind of life they have to live to fulfill their addiction.

Even extreme libertarians will probably say (2) is in a better place, but might chalk things up to (1) needing to have more discipline and they'll make up some just-so story as for why unambiguously bad drugs, or pornography, or dangerous things should be allowed anyway.

Classical freedom

Paul

In reality, since the Enlightenment, we have had a hobbled understanding of what "freedom" is. Enlightenment "freedom" is only the freedom to perfectly follow the whims of impulses and vices indiscriminately.

The Christian tradition

Christians stated the classical view of freedom very clearly. Paul writes that all men are either "slaves to Christ" or "slaves to sin." The modern man wants to retort that he doesn't want to be a slave to anything, but wants to be his own master, but there is really no such thing.

One can be guided by Christ, or more generally, by consistent moral principles, restraint and forethought. Or one can abandon the pretense of morality and by definition follow his impulses to fornication, substance-abuse, and general reckless living.

These masters aren't equivalent either. Being a slave to one is nothing like being a slave to another. Slaves to sin are wrapped up into incoherent and uncontrollable behavior. Following one's sexual whims might be inconsistent and thoughtless behavior that one likes one second and is disgusted by the next. It might mean someone exploding in rage and emotion.

This "free" man, a slave to sin, is only bound by the practical consideration that he might get caught or shamed by "prudes" and that might dampen his ability to follow his inpulses more.

Impulses are not the man

nihilism

If we look at the modern world as if it has desires and goals for us, it certainly seems like it is trying to induce as many people as possible into being slave to sin. People no long have identity in who they actually are, but in accidental preferences formed over years of impulse-seeking: their sexual fetishes, drugs of choice, their favorite TV show to consoom or their favorite music they constantly pump in their head to dampen the possibility that an original reflective thought might occur to them.

More than that, these people often can't even fathom of life without their master sins, and retort in rage when someone dares to direct them otherwise or "judge" them. They don't just have a kind of Stockholm Syndrome with sin, but they can't comprehend the fact the people are something deeper than their pleasure habits.

Control of Impulses Leads to Freedom

However if one can constrain his impulses, he will be free to truly sit down and deliberate and make free decisions on what is best to do.

This is where true freedom begins. The concept is totally alien to the coomer, the slave to sin, because he can't even afford the mental space to think further than his constant service to sin.

To him, it is merely "me having fun," versus "some haters who are against fun."

Slaves to Vices are Slaves in General

manmade

If you indentify with your impulses, it's very easy to get you motivated to defend them with the same impulsivity if you are told that they are "under attack." While impulsive people might be hard to be around as individuals, they are easy to control as groups and can be herded around like unthinking sheep.

People who are reactive in politics are always the losers, and what is an impulsive life but one that is entirely reactive and therefore controllable?

The Kingly State

With the classical understanding of freedom, the goal of social conventions, traditional morality and the good government is to increase true liberty by minimizing one's temptation to vice. People are born with some tendency to vice (original sin to Chrisitians) that can be easily made worse. The goal of normal society is to lead people away from lasciviousness and impulsive behavior. (That is clearly not the goal of the modern West, however.)

A drug addict is not free. A teenager who gets home from school everyday, closes his door and watches internet pornography is not free. A person who compulsively checks their social media feed when they wake up or are minorly bored is not free. A woman who sleeps around throughout her twenties and is left with nothing is not free. A boy who stays up late because he has to "grind" on a video game is not free.

No one can say that these people truly want what they do: no one fully consents to any impulsive behavior. This is actually why in the Catholic tradition, sins of incontinence are not as grave as deliberate sins. It's not a fair game.

Either way, the goal of the church, or a moral society and moral government generally, is to increase freedom by being a countervailing power to inborn vices.

The point of moral instruction is not to restrain man, but to make him more free by eliminating the true causes of his enslavement: his vices, his bad habits, his sexual paraphilias, his gluttony and greed.


15/57 - Conspiratorial Thinking and "Multiple Outs"

How to do magic tricks...

Magicians have this concept called "Multiple Outs." It's actually how you can do simple magic tricks. Suppose you have a person pick a card and say you will guess the suit of their card.

They pick a diamond card and announce it, and you tell them to check underneath their chair to reveal a slip of paper that says, "You will pick a diamond card."

That might sound like a nice trick, but if they had picked a spade, you have another piece of paper under the fruitbowl that says, "You will pick a spade." If they pick a club, you unbutton your shirt to reveal a giant club written on your undershirt, etc.

In essence, for any possible outcomes, you have a response planned that seems natural and predictive. This is one of the ways that magicians do what they do, often with more complicated mechanisms.

Applications

Multiple outs are actually real magic.

You've heard the expression "hope for the best and plan for the worst," but the concept of multiple outs is that one should be planning for all possible outcomes, including those that you yourself might not even anticipate now.

Every business plan should have multiple outs. Your major life decisions should be planned with multiple outs. You should even tacitly plan dates with multiple outs, so that unexpected events can be met with a confident, perhaps even better replacements.

Multiple outs in political power

Any longstanding group in political power is by the mere fact of their survival sure to have mastered the sleight of hand of "multiple outs."

This serves not only to continue in political power, but to cement their power further by the appearance of inevitability. A ruler or ruling class puts themselves in a position to benefit from any possible occurrence: be ready even to use disaster to your benefit, as Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel put it succinctly: "You never let a serious crisis go to waste."

Conspiracy?

People skeptical of the state sometimes devolve into thinking that every major political event is in one way or another is planned in advance. This is because they don't understand and apply the concept of multiple outs. They see that their rulers are good at benefiting from any chaos or unforeseen events, so assume these events must've been engineered.

Look at the corona virus: it's a great example of an event that has hugely benefited a small elite: it has bankrupted small businesses in favor of Amazon, destroyed churches and mom and pop stores in favor of passively consooming digital infotainment from curated social media sites and more. It is a rationalization of state location and contact monitoring and things far beyond what anyone dreamed of. It was a rationalization for sending out unsolicited ballots to unverified voter rolls which had very obvious beneficiaries. It has produced a cult of doomsday believers crying for the state to lock them in their houses and make them wear fetishistic masks.

Seeing all this and asking who benefits, "Cui bono?" might lead you to think that the whole thing was planned: perhaps the disease itself is fake, or maybe it was real, but spread on purpose, or perhaps it was engineered. You've probably seen stuff like this, and while I won't dismiss this kind of thinking out of hand, it's unnecessary.

In reality, the ruling classes of the West have openly prepared to benefit from a pandemic scenario. COVID19 was deemed "closed enough" to a pandemic, and the momentum of the system took over. It's not even that they wanted it to happen, but they were prepped to benefit from it as a contingency plan if it might occur.

The Conspiracy Rabbit Hole and the Omnipotent Cathedral

There are some people who see how the ruling class is in a position to benefit from every school-shooting, police encounter, foreign entanglement, dissident politician and everything else and thus assume that everything they see must be arranged in advance. There is a logic behind believing this: it does seem way to convenient for all of this to happen at what retroactively seems to the best time, but this leads people to the much more uneconomical idea that the System is so omnipotent that it controls every event and every reaction to every event.

In reality, our rulers just know how to use multiple outs. When you know how to do that, it seems like you are always in control, and by nature, people attribute a kind of magical power to you. All you have to do is stay cool and play it off like you predicted it all.

This is why "the System" always seem to win.

The system knows how to play with multiple outs.

There is a canned response, or at least a reasonably ad-libbed response, for every event and every possible event. They are in a position of antifragility and can gain from nearly any possible event. When they can't, the media can at least throw enough mud on public perception to inspire apathy or confusion.

There are certainly portions of the System which are "conspiratorial." Major news organizations usually coordinate on what editorial line to publish, but in general, their entrenched power comes from a detached ability to be flexible in new events.

The omnipotence and permanence of the Soystem is illusory. It comes from that flexibility.

Multiple outs in your life

Even aside from politics, it's important to behave yourself in a way that allow yourself to have multiple outs. Business, social life, major decisions and in everything else. Never tether yourself to one option; that's when you lose. Have a smart response to co-opt anything that can happen, no matter how good or bad.


16/57 - The Problems with Utilitarianism


Utilitarianism

At a dumb intuitive level, the "ethical" idea of Utilitarianism in principle gets pretty close to what most people reflexively want from social-political affairs: the greatest good for the greatest number of people—who doesn't want that?

The problem is that that intuitive idea is incoherent.It sounds good, but there's not really such a thing as "the greatest good for the greatest number of people."If there were, it wouldn't even be actionable.

"Maximizing"

So the first problem is one any mathematician will realize right off the bat: it's rarely possible to maximize a function for two variables.

If we had the means,we could maximize (1) the amount of good in society or (2) the number of people who feel that good, but nearly certainly not both (if we can it's a bizarre coincidence).

It's sort of like saying you want to find a house with the highest available altitude and the lowest available price; the highest house might not have the lowest price and vice versa, the same way the way of running society which maximizes happiness is nearly certainly not be the way which maximizes all individuals' happiness.

There are some classic moral puzzles that bring this out: Let's say there's a city where basically everyone is in absolute ecstasy, but their ecstasy can only take place if one particular person in the city is in intense and indescribable pain. Or to put it another way, to maximize my happiness, we might need to make everyone in the world my slave and allow me to rule as I please. Although this might maximize my happiness, it might not maximize anyone else's (if it does however, we might want to consider it).

The Well-being of Conscious Creatures

So I recently read Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape which is either a failed attempt to bring Utilitarianism back to life or a misguided book simply ignorant of what the problems with it were.I don't actually recall Harris using the term "utilitarianism," although that is really just what he's arguing for.

Harris repeats one mantra basically every paragraph of the book: "the well-being of conscious creatures—the well-being of conscious creatures—the well-being of conscious creatures." In addition to being repetitive, the term is problematic for important reasons. So Harris wants our Utilitarian engineers to maximize "the well-being of conscious creatures," but the problem is we can't just add up enjoyment in the first place. There's no way of taking my enjoyment of candy, subtracting the pain of a broken nose and adding/subtracting an existential crisis or two.

Now his hope is eventually we'll understand the neurology of the brain enough to do just that. I don't take Harris for a fool, and he does have a Ph.D. in neuroscience (obviously I am being sarcastic), but I think he's ignoring all the important problems either to appeal to a public audience or just to convince himself. We can study the neurology of feelings and get readings of neural activity, but objective neural activity is certainly not subjective experience. Twice as much neural activity doesn't mean "twice" the subjective experience.

We can no better look at brain activation to understand subjective experience any better than we can look at the hot parts of a computer to see what it's doing.

You can't do math with feelings

Of course one of the problems of qualia/subjective experience is that they are necessarily unquantifiable: imagine how you felt the last time you got a present you really enjoyed—now imagine yourself feeling exactly twice as happy—now 1.5 times as happy—now 100 times as happy.

You can't do it, and even if you could, you couldn't compare that experience with other experiences—you can't really understand what it means to be as happy as you were sad a month ago, and that prevents us from actually adding up your experiences into one number to be maximized.

But again even if we could it would be impossible to add that number up with someone else's experience. Humans have different subjective experiences: caffeine affects me demonstrably different than other people, but I can't quantify that; some people are more affected by pain (to my understanding, women seem to have a neurology more pain-prone than men), but how can we precisely relate the precise ratios of every individual person?

And of course, although Harris wants to maximize "the well-being of conscious creatures," we have no clue what kinds of conscious experiences define animal life, or how many animals are "conscious" in any recognizable sense.As Thomas Nagel noted, we can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be a bat, but to quantify their experiences and compare them to our own? Forget about it!

The philosophical problems here are so endless as to make any kind of objective application of Utilitarianism based on neuroscience far beyond even fancy.I will be so bold as to say that this will simply never be possible, regardless of what chips Elon Musk wants to put in your brain.

To repeat:

Utilitarianism isn't just impossible, it's impossible every step of the way.

To be clear, these are not technological problems that a future totalitarian government might be able to "solve."There really is no coherent sense in which we can put a number to a certain feeling of happiness and subtract from that another person's feeling of unhappiness.Qualia are qualia.It's like subtracting the sound of an airplane from the color blue.

What Utilitarianism really is

Anyway, the tradition of Utilitarianism was always a failure, but it's an interesting sign of the times.The Enlightenment was a time of some (less than usually thought) scientific advancement and the idea was that as we began to understand the nature of the body and the stars and everything else, we could fully understand too human society.

Eventually we could engineer and control them all.But as fast as we learn things about the world, even faster do complications arise and we end up "[restoring nature's] ultimate secrets to that obscurity, in which they ever did and ever will remain" in Hume's words.

The only really unfortunate thing is that the ruling class of the West either doesn't know or does care.There's a cynical sense in which they are attempting to re-engineer or "Build Back Better®️" the world on Utilitarian principleswhere every decision is determined to be acceptable by some centralized utilitarian calculus.


17/57 - Monero and Other Privacy Coins

As I said in other writings and videos, no serious cryptocurrency can function in real life which is not also a truly private cryptocurrency.

By far, the most popular of all these is Monero, which has already become the de facto currency of the dark web, but also of all cryptocurrency users who actually use cryptocurrency for purposes other than a mere investment.

Monero, however, is not actually the only private or pseudo-private crypto-currency, and while I talked about its competitors in a recent stream, I think it's worth putting in words for a reference.

Monero's Competitors

Zcash is Trash

Zcashy owned

Optional privacy is no privacy at all.

Zcash (ZEC) is often shilled as a Monero replacement. On the surface it actually sounds great and unambiguously better: it has a clever a zero-knowledge proof technology called zk-SNARKs which can store and prove transactions in the blockchain in a private way. zk-SNARKs are generally superior to Monero's somewhat ragtag triad of ring signatures + stealth addresses + ring CT to anonymize transactions and they are more scalable.

Zcash, however, has two major problems, one substantial and one accidental (in the Aristotelean sense).

The substantial problem is that zk-SNARKs are not fully trustless: they require a trusted setup where public parameters are generated and if not properly disposed of, the initial developers could use that knowledge to produce infinite money without anyone knowing. This sort of defeats the purpose of having a decentralized cryptocurrency and while the rest of the currency is decentralized, that gaping hole certainly isn't.

The accidental problem (or maybe incidental problem in modern English) is that Zcash is only optionally private. The vast majority of ZEC transactions are not "shielded" with the zk-SNARK technology, but are as public as a Bitcoin transaction. This allows a third-party to uncover the "private" transactions by a process of automatic process of elimination.

Zcash, while is created valuable technology, is simply not a private currency and is not a valid competitor to Monero.

Pirate Chain

Pirate Chain (ARRR) is a minor privacy coin that has mooned significantly recently popping up from 30 cents to 14 dollars or so (it's halved since I started writing this article though). Pirate Chain uses the zk-SNARK technology, but unlike Zcash, uses it mandatorily (with optional transparent transactions like Monero via the private view key).

Pirate Chain has two big issues though. The first is what I mentioned before: zk-SNARKs as they have been implemented in ZEC and ARRR are not trustless. They require a setup in which theoretically, if the public parameters of the system were known to some inside party, they could print an infinite amount of the currency with absolutely no way that any other people could know.

Even if you trust the Pirate Chain developers, Pirate has another pretty undeniable problem: 90% of ARRR has already been mined and is in circulation! Yep, you heard that right: A minor niche alt-coin which has existed for only three years was put together in such away that now as big of a proportion of it has been mined as has been mined of Bitcoin in over ten years!

That means that that 90% is highly aggregated in the wallets of the two and a half people who knew of ARRR in this period, and anyone adding to the market cap is mostly just contributing to these people's bags. Even if Pirate Chain had great trustless technology (which is doesn't) it has not been set up equitably, but in a way that enriches early adopters to an extreme degree. Expect to get dumped on if you buy this stuff.

Honestly, if you want a better, more honest cryptocurrency, you could just take the Pirate setup and give it a slower and more sane emission. That would be a better choice than ARRR itself.

Monero + Dogecoin + Bitcoin = Wownero

such wow

websitememe site

Wownero is a joke currency. It's literally a fork of Monero with Dogecoin aesthetics and some minor additions. Like Pirate Chain, it also has surged significantly recently (from 2 or 3 cents to more than a dollar—beating out Dogecoin as a pump-and-dump for sure).

Weirdly enough, Wownero is probably the best of the alternative privacy coins that I've mentioned so far. It's trustless, unlike the zk-SNARK coins, but also has some nice features.

It was created somewhat as a satirical response for another privacy 💩coin, MoneroV, which was just Monero with an initial coin offering and forked from the same blockchain (which ruins the privacy of users on both chains because it becomes easier to triangulate on when outputs are actually spent).

Since Wownero is a "joke," it actually has integrated new technology and helpful additions before Monero has, since the Wownero developers are doing it all fast and loose. Ironically, that can be good.

One principle division between Monero and Wownero is that Wownero is more like Bitcoin in that it has a totally fixed supply, while Monero has tail emission. Some people have criticized Monero for tail emission, arguing that it is unnecessary and inflationary. I am not sold on either side: the game theoretics of this has never truly played out, but Wownero might actually be something to look into if you like Monero, but think it's "inflationary." Regardless, Wownero's whitepaper and roadmap on their website are something that everyone should read and take seriously.

Again, the currency is sort of a meme, but it is what it is. I decided to start taking Wownero donations on my site a while ago, just for fun.

Suterusu and the Suter Token

website

Now the ideal private currency would have the simple and scalable zk-SNARK technology implemented in a fair way and hopefully started in some novel manner that is truly trustless. Suterusu is one potential candidate for this kind of system. Behind it is a novel idea of zk-conSNARKs which can be read about in their whitepaper, their yellowpaper and a document on Suterusu architecture

This technology hasn't been extensively vetted, but it has the potential to solve all the issues in privacy coins.

Suterusu isn't quite meant to be an analog of Monero. The token itself is actually just an Ethereum token. In fact, this might be the interesting part: Part of its system is that it can provide zk-conSNARK shielding to other currencies that support smart contracts. You can use Suter to transact with Ethereum privately, for example.

The Suterusu system, however is not perfect as far as I'm concerned. It isn't a self-propelling decentralized system in the way that Bitcoin or Monero is. That makes is regulatable and subject to human whim in a way a cryptocurrency should not be. It is a designed system with dev taxes and even regulatory compliance that includes blacklisting.

zk-SNARKs vs. zk-STARKs

In addition to the zk-SNARK system used in Zcash and Pirate, there also exists zk-STARKs, which like zk-conSNARKs allow for a trustless setup. Whitepaper.

To repeat, zk-SNARK stands for "Zero Knowledge Succinct Non-interactive ARguments of Knowledge." zk-STARK stands for "Zero Knowledge Scalable Transparent ARguments of Knowledge." Scalable because it scales better than zk-SNARKs and transparent because it has a trustless setup.

I do not know of a currency project that uses this technology now. Like zk-conSNARKs, it's only a couple years old.

The ideal privacy coin

Would be one that:

  1. Is actually private.
  2. Is trustless.
  3. Is highly scalable.
  4. Is truly decentralized and unmanaged by a singular entity.
  5. Has reasonably fair emission/mining schedule.

Monero gets only half credit on 3, but full points on the rest. Wownero is the same, although perhaps it should be taken less seriously as a Doge-tier joke. Zcash fails on 1 and 2. Pirate Chain fails on 2 and 5. Suterusu has great tech, but flounders on 4.

So the recipe for an ideal currency is here. It is one that implements the zk-conSNARK technology of Suterusu or zk-STARKs (provided that such technology is appropriately vetted), but does so in a way without centralization, dev taxes and other self-refuting silliness.

This ideal currency might just be Monero itself, to my understanding Monero has contemplated integrating zk-STARKs as they become more well-travelled. Such an addition, if it works, would drastically improve the scalability of Monero even if it might require somewhat of an overhaul.


Monero Wownero
48jewbtxe4jU3MnzJFjTs3gVFWh2nRrAMWdUuUd7Ubo375LL4SjLTnMRKBrXburvEh38QSNLrJy3EateykVCypnm6gcT9bh Wo3kx9FY1sQLndodemcibifzbdi2Q7X9YaoaMAVdKCwXieVJBJTRdpG3WoWzQ1atnBLK1Wti7P72p34K21EaACRv124yiLenE


18/57 - Livestream on YouTube within an hour or so

See the link here:

https://youtu.be/Jq9ZKvsJSJI


19/57 - My searx instance has changed domains

For those that use my SearX instance (which was formerly searx.lukesmith.xyz, I have now relocated it to searx.cedars.xyz, so if you use it as a default search engine, remember to change its url.

For those who don't know what SearX is, it's a metasearch engine that polls whatever search engines you want and aggregates the results. It is free software that can be installed by anyone on any server.

Read more about it on their website, or find another instance to use, or install it on your own server.


20/57 - Monero Maximalism: Or, How Bitcoin Is a 💩coin

The Biggest Problem with Cryptocurrency

Most normal people hear the word "cryptocurrency" and assume that means that they are "cryptic" or "private,"but that's actually a huge, perhaps the hugest misunderstanding of our time and it has some big consequences.The "crypto" in cryptocurrency merely comes from its cryptographic nature.

When it comes to actual privacy, cryptocurrencies are an unmitigated disaster: All transactions and wallet balances are easily viewable on the necessarily public blockchain.

This might not seem like a problem to some, and there are also some who will retort with "Well, I'm not doing anything illegal so it doesn't matter to me."

But here's the thing:Every currency in human history has been totally private,so we have no other similar disaster scenario to even compare this to.

American dollars are centrally financially controled, but we can transact without that being public information.Even when using a Visa or Mastercard with your bank, Visa or your bank might know of the transaction, but it isn't broadcast publicly to the entire world like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin is therefore a unique privacy disaster that we can't even anticipate.No cryptocurrency is widely used enough as an actual currency for people to really feel the burn of this, but this opens up huge liabilities for every human on the planet.You might think the American dollar is a NWO/Satanic/Mark-of-the-Beast currency that will take away your freedoms,but let me tell you that Bitcoin as it is is far worse!

The Disaster of the Bitcoin Future

Here's some of the things we can expect in a world running on Bitcoin:

No sane person would volunteer to reveal all their bank accounts, transaction histories, spending habits and thereby physical movementsfor no reason to every government and business in the world.But if you use most cryptocurrencies, that is exactly what you're doing.

It will be even worse.

Losing personal privacy is one thing.Maybe you don't even mind a world where eveyone is continuously "doxxed" and bombared withperfectly targetted ads a là Minority Report.

More important than that is systemic privacy.In a system with glass walls like Bitcoin, criminals, governments, corporations and regulatory agenciesrealize that it is very easy for them to abuse and exploit people.Expect the maximum amount of extortion, the maximum amount of taxes on increasingly mundane things and the maximum amount micromanagement.

While you might not be able to imagine in your mind's eye all the terrible things that might happenwith a fully monitorable currency, needless to say, it will containwhat are, in effect, indescribable Lovecraftian monsters from the blackest Stygian depths.Bitcoin is the opposite of freedom.It is giving a carte blanche to all the world's worst people to prey on innocents.

The Solution: Monero

monero iconMonero (also known by its ticker "XMR") is an exception to this.

Monero is a digital currency that has the blockchain technology of Bitcoin, but has in its core very smartly designed tech to keep the transactions on this public blockchain totally opaque.It takes what we've learned from Bitcoin and makes a complete project that can function, in fact is functioning in real life.

Firstly, the technologies which make the Monero blockchain private:

  1. Ring signatures to protect sender privacy. All transactions are jointly signed by not just the actual sender, but ten other addresses. Security by obscurity and plausible deniability.
  2. Stealth addresses to protect receiver privacy. Instead of one address on the blockchain, you technically have a different address for every single transaction and only by your private view key can you see that they are yours.
  3. Ring confidential transactions to obscure the amount sent.
Satoshi prophesizes Monero.
The creator of Bitcoin really intended to create what Monero would later become. Bitcoin itself is incomplete.

None of this means any complication for the user.Monero works just like any other cryptocurrency and if you use the default graphical Monero wallet, it's just as easy to use Electrum or something else for Bitcoin.

Monero is for normal people

Monero is often portrayed as being subversive because it is coming to totally replace Bitcoin on the dark net for illegal transactions.It often has a reputation associated with those potentially criminal purposes it could be used for (same thing with Bitcoin before blockchain monitoring became a science).Monero is not doing anything illegal that cash couldn't do beforehand, but there's a more important point:

Much more evil can be done with public transactions than private transactions: they can cause blackmail, rumors, gossip-mongering, witchhunts, stalking and targeted robberies and attacks.Seasoned criminals know how to juggle Bitcoin and other non-cryptic cryptocurrencies to avoid compromising privacy; normal people do not and can fall prey to some of the worst things just by using Bitcoin for normal things in normal ways.

At the end of the day, it's not Monero that's weird or subversive or niche, it's Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies.Privacy is a bare minimum for any functioning currency.Currency users deserve that and no currency could function without it.The dollar, the euro, the renminbi and every other currency by definition has the same privacy features as Monero.Bitcoin just doesn't have that.

Monero solves all of Bitcoin's other problems.

Bitcoin also has other drawbacks:

  1. Bitcoin block size is limited to such a small size that spenders have to compete with massive fees to get their transactions processed. It often takes $10 of Bitcoin to send $5 of Bitcoin.
  2. It is unclear if the Bitcoin have incentives to continue once all Bitcoins are mined.
  3. Bitcoin mining is increasingly centralized and requires extreme specialty ASIC hardware to compete.

All of these pale in comparison to the privacy issue, and a lot of smoke is generated by random coins trying to solve these issues,but Monero has a solution for them all.

1. Monero has low transaction fees.

Monero has variable block size that avoids this issue as well, as long with a disincentive for large blocksizes to prevent spurious transactions (that could otherwise be theoretically used in an attack to compromise network privacy).

2. Monero will be mined forever.

The second issue is the big question mark behind the whole Bitcoin system.Once all Bitcoins are mined, will miners continue to process transactions if they are paid by fees only?

This isn't an issue for Monero because there is never a point where the block reward for mining is zero.It will eventually stagnate at 0.6 XMR for eternity, which is a supply inflation which approaches zero over time and avoids the issue of no block rewards.This is called tail emission.

Note also that any solution to Bitcoin's first problem above, will necessarily exacerbate the second problem.If you solve the fee problem, you make the mining incentive problem worse.If there is the Lightning Network or something else that reduces Bitcoin's fees dramatically, the chance of those lower fees maintaining miners will decrease dramatically.

3. Monero stays decentralized by avoiding mass-mining.

Monero is specifically designed to avoid allowing specialty hardware (ASICs) participate in mining.This makes individual mining on consumer computers more possible for longer and makes it hard to farm Monero.They use a technology called RandomX to do this.

Other Monero Perks

In short, Monero is cryptocurrency done right.Bitcoin was a great proof of concept, but Monero fixes all the issues that the Bitcoin project brought to attention.

There are yet more good features of Monero that are worth mentioning:

Optional Transparency with Private View Keys

In some cases, you might not want privacy, but transparency with Monero.Suppose you're running a kind of non-profit that want's to proudly show all their financials to potential donnors.Monero allows this too with Private View Keys.You can publish your private view keys on your website for your transactions to visible to whoever has them.

Monero is actively developed and improved.

Monero users and developers are constantly trying to improve, break and stress-test the technology.A lot of the features I've mentioned here have been added to Monero since its founding.If you want to have an in depth look at the history of Monero's development and technology, you can see this video series "Breaking Monero" where some guys overview how Monero has overcome previous issues to become the prime privacy coin of today.

Using and Holding Monero

If you're reading this, I'll assume you're at least superficially familiar with cryptocurrencies and probably have some Bitcoin.Even if that's not so, just follow the links and you're smart enough to get started.

Wallets

Get a Monero wallet here from their main site.Write down and store your wallet seed where you will never lose it.

Getting Monero

The first thing I recommend everyone should do is put your public address on your website fordonations and produce high-quality writing and other website content.Monero users will usually be more likely to send small Monero donations since transaction fees are low.This also increases the profile of Monero in the eyes of anyone who sees it, which is a good costless investment for you now.Cryptocurrencies are driven by networking effects. Note that you can make a QR code with qrencode or an online generator if you're a true-blue normie.

The unofficial site Monero.how lists many exchanges where you can exchange Bitcoin or Ethereum for Monero and store it on your private wallet, including many that don't require KYC (sending in an ID).

The site Local Monero is even an anonymous service where you can mail in cash to exchange with a trusted Monero vendor or vice versa.

I also recommend using Bisq for the highest level of privacy.It is a peer-to-peer and totally anonymous exchange which even creates its own Tor service automatically.You can exchange XMR for BTC there too.

There are also Bitcoin/Monero atomic swaps in the works.This is something very new, but when it happens and goes fully public, you might expect a lot of value in Bitcoin moving over into Monero.

Use now or to HODL?

They also keep a small list of the growing number of services that accept Monero.Everything from online services, to houses, to computer parts and more.I also keep a Monero donation address public and recommend others to do so as well.Since Monero transaction fees are so low, microtransactions and small donations are easy.

Although if you're persuaded by my case here, you might just want to HODL Monero for the most part and expect that it will rise.As I'm writing this (April 21, 2021) Monero has increased a lot recently in the ongoing bullrun, but it is still proportionately far lower than it was in comparison with Bitcoin in the 2017 run.I have no clue whether it will moon or crash hard at the end of the bullrun or anything, all I can say is that I think the technological fundamentals are far better than Bitcoin and all other currencies and its only getting scarcer.

What separates Monero from everything else is that it is a gimmickless currency that has all the bare minimums of privacy.It is Bitcoin perfected.It's what Bitcoin should've been.That's it.

My Monero donation address:

48jewbtxe4jU3MnzJFjTs3gVFWh2nRrAMWdUuUd7Ubo375LL4SjLTnMRKBrXburvEh38QSNLrJy3EateykVCypnm6gcT9bh


21/57 - Stay frosty: possible test stream on PeerTube and YouTube in a bit

I'm going to probably be doing a test livestream in a bit. Hopefully I fixed the issue in the previous stream with Pulseaudio and buffering.

I'll probably go live on PeerTube first, test it there, then test it on YouTube. I'm mobile and on limit battery though, so it won't be a super long stream if everything works out.

PeerTube stream will be at this link: https://videos.lukesmith.xyz/videos/watch/c6feba6e-0221-4373-b9e8-9e50a4c035e9


22/57 - My blog system now has tagging (all pure POSIX shell of course)

This isn't live on the old blog system's Github, but partially inspired by by Based Cooking's tag system which is based on blogit, I've added in the feature to tag articles.

I've been wanting to write more articles and informational pages on my website, but doing that with no organization is somewhat impratical. I now have a tagcloud on my homepage.

My issue with blogit, the tool used for Based.Cooking is that it is slow, mainly due to the fact that for every file, it has multiple system/program calls (grep, sed, etc. might be called for each article or tag).

Here's an example of what I do, just for info. Instead of looking through each file and calling grep and friends each time to get file information, the title, the tags, etc., I merely run awk and sed once to get all the info from all files:

# Awk prints out the filename, title and keywords/tag lines and Sed rearranges them for parsibilityoutput="$(awk 2>/dev/null '	/<title>/ {printf "\n" FILENAME $0};	/keywords/ {printf $0}' "$webdir/$artdir"/*html |		sed "s/\s*<meta.*keywords.*content=[\"']/|/			s/\s*<title>\s*/;/			s/\(\s\+\|[\"']>$\)/ /g			s/^\s*//			s/,//g			s/\( *&ndash.*\)*<\/title>//" | grep "|")"

Then, instead of recursing and reading every file and manually running the same grep or sed commands each time, just recurse through the output of that previous command stored in $output.

Actually, I realize in the title of this post, I lied! It actually isn't POSIX shell, but bash, but for a very good reason. Bash has a built-in that capitalizes strings:

$ name=luke$ echo "${name^}"Luke

POSIX shell lacks such a feature and would have to call an external program like sed or tr to capitalize strings, which I would need when later in the script recursing through tag names. This actually is a good case of when bash is faster to use, since it has the feature built into it, without needing to call external programs.

Of course I'm sure someone will email me saying that there is some (albeit perhaps less elegant) way of capitalizing the first character of a string in POSIX sh...

I might make my new blog system Makefile-based like blogit to get the perks of that, but I've always found Makefile syntax in a kind of disturbing and confusing uncanny valley. I know that's a silly thing to say.


23/57 - The Fragility of Physics

Physics has a reputation of being a uniquely "scientific" field.In other fields, you might hear of the concept of "Physics Envy" which is supposed to be a deep-seated desire of academics of other disciplines for the rigorousness and elegance of physics.Only physics, so the popular understanding goes, is truly able to abstract away from the messiness of detail and create truly beautiful and solvent models of their subject matters.Physics is thus the queen of the "hard sciences."

I object to the very idea of "hard vs. soft sciences" for reasons that will soon be clear, but I think it is most important to remember that for all its pretensions, physics is the most fragile science.That isn't necessarily bad, but it's true.

Why "fragile?"

The purity of theology

Put simply, physics, partially due to its somewhat abstract nature, is exactly that domain where our interpretation of the universe is most likely to change radically in the event of any kind of theoretical sea change.That is, while in other more terrestrial sciences, the data is well-known and the theory is in debate, in physics, the opposite is arguably true.In astrophysics, quantum mechanics, the study of gravity or relativity, this should all be obvious.

Even without departing the cuddling embrace of mainstream physics, we can actually see this clearly.What is the ultimate fate of the universe to be?A continuous expansion of the universe until heat death?Perhaps gravity or some other force will pull everything back in a Big Crunch?The correct alternative is a statement of very specific and tendentious data which changes quite a great deal with any kind of new interpretations of what we see.

It's worth it to remember that for most of man's history, including the initial development of what we nowadays call physics,the "normal state" of the universe was assumed to be the state of affairs we're familiar with on the surface of the Earth:everything falls down to the ground and things propelled in space will slow down until they stop.

But modern physics now looks at the nature of our life on Earth as an exception to the general rule of frictionless and continuous movement in the vacuum of space.A valid question to ask is how much more that we take to be normal is a special case of reality?As we encounter more and more abberrant data, such as quantum mechanics, we might soon find ourself unifying seemingly disparate forces in the same was that Newton in a novel and seemingly absurd way the fact that objects fall to the ground with the apparent fact that the Earth orbits the Sun into one new concept: Gravity.Such a unification religates all our universals to a special case.

Does light really go the speed of light?

Physics is fragile because it is like a game of Jenga.Pull out or change one piece and the whole thing is either reordered or simply collapses.

As an example, say that within several years, we realize that the speed of light, for some known or unknown reason, doesn't function with the universality we assumed.Suppose that there is some kind of interaction of light and gravity such that light is faster in some parts of the universe.The reason isn't important.Or suppose we merely find out that in the past, there has been a systematic principle (similar to the Heisenberg Principle) that has miscalibrated all of our measurements of light.

Even if we have minutely mismeasured, the Jenga piece of light will radically alter everthing:our ideas of how old the universe is,our relationships with other planets,the solvency of general relativity,etc.You might say that there is a "concordance of evidence" that attests to our single known speed of light,but another way of putting that is that we have many other things tied into our interpretation of light that will have to change if we realize our models of it are flawed.

Poverty of data

Especially in the astronomical domain, it's worth remembering exactly how circumstantial our ideas of space are.We sometime speak of the traits of other solar systems' planets as if we've been there.But in reality, astrophysicists guess the chemical compositions of foreign planets based on their light frequencies and other fragile data.Any systematic error in observation over those thousands or millions of lightyears and we have been counting angels on pinheads the whole time.

People have the idea that because astrophysicists make extraordinary claims about planets, galaxies and time periods far beyond our mortal ken that they must have extraordinary evidence for them.That is frankly not the case.We have a piece-meal and jury-rigged set of circumstantial reasoning leading us to these claims.Seeing them computerized in full color in a science documentary doesn't make them more real.It just makes them look more official.

Physics vs. "soft sciences"

I remember talking to someone over the internet who accused me of having a low view of institutionalized science and being a dreaded epistemological anarchist because one of my degrees is in the "soft science" of linguistics.While I have a lot of bad things to say about the current state of linguistics, as a field, it is substantially more advanced and its findings are substantially more solid than physics.At that, formalizing ideas in math doesn't just make something a better or a more rigorous science anyway, which is the assumption of many people have.

While linguistics undergoes theoretical changes every several generations,the data, or really more importantly the phenomenology of linguistics is as secure as ever across all theoretical frameworks.That is, we know how language works.We can see abstract relationships between morphemes and syntactic structure.Even if we totally rewrite our narratives and theories about linguistic basics, there is no debate about the structure of language and how basic data relates to other data.This is absolutely the opposite of physics.

Physics is pretty solid on earth, and solid when you are running objects at each other in a vacuum,but once we broach the territory of astrophysics, relativity, gravity and more or less anything else that we as humans lack direct intuition of most of the "facts" of physics are theory-internal facts, and will fade away or be rendered obsolete when the next theoretical fad comes around.

My standard for theoretical frameworks

I think any serious scholar needs the ability to operate cognitively with multiple different theoretical frameworks in mind.

For example, (on linguistics) I don't really take Generative Grammar very seriously, in fact, despite it being on of the most well-funded dialects of linguistics nowadays, it's pretty inert.Despite that, I view it as very important for me to be able to process linguistic problems within Generative Grammar and word explanations within its ideas.It's nice to be able to say to someone "this alternation is accounted for if this DP occupies the spec of CP."I don't believe in CPs or specifiers as being psychologically real, but I can recognize the language as communicative.

A good theoretical framework is one that can produce facts and observations that can be recognized and explained outside of its framework as well.

That is, a framework should cue us in to finding utterly novel observations and thus a new phenomenology.This goes against the egocentric motivations of a lot of scientific frameworks whose practitioners are trying to edge out "the competition."Fields that spend most of their time trying to formalize previous observations within their own theoretical language are mostly a waste of time (this is Generative Grammar, frankly, although due to historical ignorance, many people in GG do not know they are re-treading steps).

One of the biggest issues of modern post-war institutionalized science is that the funding and peer-review mechanism is self-reinforcing:all fields converge to be "unipolar": only one methodology or framework is deemed "scientific."This creates a community of "scientists" who are more an more incestuous and generally oblivious not just to other possibilities of inquiry,but don't even have to be aware of their own priors or assumptions.

The blinders of positivism

As I've interacted with physicists more, I'm often surprised by how irrelevant they think even the most basic theoretical awareness is.That's "philosophy" for them.It's not uncommon to hear zingers like these:

  1. "Science isn't about truth, it's about creating models."
  2. "Physics is about fitting equations."
  3. "We don't do philosophy."

Things like these are said as if they are some kind of statement of universal and well-consented-to truth, when in reality they are absurd Zen koans of the positivist religion.This was a loony opinion a hundred years ago andpeople saying these things now know that they are ludicrous.They have just become identifying marks of the social club.

Yep, science is about creating models... models that replicate reality, i.e. Truth.

A scientists who doesn't do philosophy isn't a scientist: he's a meter-reader.A philosopher who doesn't do science isn't a philosopher: he's just a stoner.The attempt to sever these two words from each other is part of the problem.

Physicists seem to be particularly touchy on this point.On one hand, they insist that philosophy is "not their thing" and "not related."On the other hand, they get incredibly angry when anyone else dares to either put the methodology of modern physics to any kind of philosophical tests or even to look into philosophical ramifications of their work.

In reality, modern scientists and positivists have their own metaphysics, it is just an implicit one that they advertently or inadvertently sneak into their theories.They can only do it because its clumsy sterile "materialism" is the background-radiation of the modern world.


24/57 - Programs and Equipment I Use

After many requests, here are the programs I use for everything. I'm only putting here programs I consider tried and true and have used for a while.

Software I Use

Priorities

I'm about getting things done quickly and having as little space between my thoughts and actions on the computer.

I like having vim-like bindings and prefer running programs in the terminal for simplicity's sake. That said, I'm very much against the cringey meme that things in the terminal are "cooler" or "nerdier" XD. Terminals are good for most tasks, but useless for others, for example, browsing the modern web (I admit this unfortunate fact with much consternation) or looking at maps or images or modifying videos by NLE.I do do some image/video editing with imagemagick/ffmpeg, but only simple, repetitive tasks.

Basic

Operating System/Distribution
I use Artix Linux (vid/site) which is a fork of Arch Linux except for without systemd.You can see some of my reasons for using Arch-based distros here.Linux distributions are generally not distinct enough to have strong feelings about, hence the reason I only rarely care to talk about them.You can see my opinion on Linux distributions generally here.
Terminal
I use st (vid/download) (simple terminal) by suckless.org, which is one of the most minimal, yet easily customizable terminal emulators out there.My build of it is also in the Arch User Repository (AUR) as st-luke-git.
Shell
I use zsh as a shell. It has pretty much all of the features of bash with additional plugins for more advanced auto-completion and syntax coloring.
Window Manager/Desktop Environment
dwm (vid/download).If you want to know "why my computer looks like that", this is what to check out.The status bar I use for dwm is dwmblocks (vid/download).Note that in order to run my builds of dwm/dwmblocks, you need to install libxft-bgra until a patch is merged into libxft on the upstream.
Text editing and programming
vim. Less of a text editor and more of a lifestyle. No, I'm not going to ever switch to emacs. Technically I use neovim nowadays, but it's all the same.

A full overview/tutorial of vim and vimtutor for new users.
Web browser
Brave (vid/download), aka Le Shill Lion.Probably the only browser that doesn't require the significant addition of plugins to make it functional. Blocks ads and trackers by default and comes with anti-fingerprinting abilities and Tor windows.

Utilities

File manager
lf. In most of my older videos, I'm using ranger which was the original model for lf, albeit written in Python and somewhat sluggish. I use file managers less and less nowadays and usually pull one up merely for illustration in videos.
Mail client
mutt [1] [2]. I keep all my mail offline with isync. Setting up the perfect terminal-based offline email system can be difficult, so I made mutt-wizard for you and me to make it easy.
Music/audio player
mpd with ncmpcpp for a library, mpv for playing songs manually when I select them in lf. I also occasionally use beet for music tagging and organization.
Video player
mpv. Don't bother with any other video player. The only reason I've never done a video on mpv is because all the cool kids already use it.
RSS reader
newsboat. I've never subscribed to YouTube channels or Twitter accounts or anything else. You can simply give accounts' feeds to newsboat and watch videos remotely via mpv without having to open a browser.
Torrent client
Transmission, with the transmission-remote-cli as an interface. Now that I'm a 30-year-old Boomer who doesn't care for copyrighted music or Hollywood movies, I don't actually use my torrent client for anything illegal nowadays though. I mostly seed Linux ISOs, rare old books and language learning materials.

Production

Video and Audio
ffmpeg is the tool I use to record all of my screencasts, and also splice and combine all of the video and audio when needed. I sometimes used Blender for making videos which would require NLE, but I always begrudged it. If you're a novice at video editing, kdenlive would probably be better. In general, I never do any video editing, so ffmpeg is enough.
Writing documents
I used to write documents in either R Markdown or (Xe-)LaTeX and compile them into either pdf documents or presentations after that. In some videos, I've also used the vim-live-latex-preview for automatic LaTeX/XeLaTeX compilation. I've also used pandoc for document conversion and compiling markdown to .pdfs. Of course if you've been watching my channel recently, you know I've been experimenting with groff/troff to much success and recommend it as a much more minimal and elegant typesetting system, scarcely lacking anything you might need, although lacking documentation, so it'll probably be a jungle at first.
Presentations
suckless sent is my new favorite presentation software, which creates a presentation immediately from a plain text file. Barring that, and especially for academic presentations, I use LaTeX Beamer which you can also compile from markdown via pandoc.I find presenting without software is usually the best in normal circumstances.
Excel-like spreadsheets
sc-im for when I need a very visual interface, but I generally use R for the things one typically does in a spreadsheet. Most things you need and excel-like program for can just be done with your core utilities.
PDF viewer
zathura.I used to use mupdf, which is good too.Check out that video for zathura's big benefits though.
Image Viewer
sxiv. Handles images, animated gifs, has additional thumbnail and slideshow modes and allows you to run custom scripts and read/write to standard input/output. Okay. This is epic.
Image modification
GIMP for big things, but imagemagick commands for most little modifications, filter changes, trims, etc.

Cryptocurrencies

There really aren't that many good programs for using cryptocurrencies, but here is what I use.

Bitcoin
Electrum.
Monero
The standard monero-cli.
Ethereum
Metamask, which comes integrated into Brave.
Trading
Bisq, decentralized exchange which uses Tor out of the box. Really one of the only ways to trade crypto without a centralized service. I do have a Coinbase account too if I need it.

Where can I find good software options?

The program of your dreams is probably listed below:

Hardware I Use

Laptop
The main laptop I use is a Thinkpad X220, released in 2011. I bought mine used on eBay for $90, and it included the ThinkPad Ultrabase, which I use at home daily (it can also hold an extra hard drive and I have a 2TB one inside). Old ThinkPads are designed for long term corporate use, and last forever and are made to be easy to repair and improve. They have many simple perks, like their uniquely tactile keyboards, their trackpoints and their ThinkLight (a more commonsense solution to lighting your keyboard at night). Newer ThinkPads are not as good, lacking the classical keyboards and generally being more Mac-like (unrepairable, breakable, and generally bad for an enormous price).My X220 ThinkPad was Corebooted by tripcode!Q/7.
Hard drives
I own two Solid State Drives (SSDs), one for my main laptop (1TB) and one for my desktop OS (512GB). I think they're both "Crucial" brand. SSDs are the only thing I recommend using a good bit of money on in your computer build. They make your computer hugely snappier and apparently use less power.
Peripherals
I use a Unicomp Endurapro which is a classic-style buckling spring keyboard like the old beloved IBM Model Ms, but also with a trackpoint to use as a mouse.I do not own or use a mouse aside from this.
Microphone
I record most of my videos with a Blue Yeti, which seems to be the dominant model on YouTube generally. I can't compare it to other microphones, but it does the job.
Webcam
Logitech C920. I can record audio decent enough too, although the Yeti is better. This webcam is passable for a small face in a portion of the screen, but is nothing special.

What I don't use

Proprietary software
It's sort of weird that my channel has gotten large enough that a huge slice of my viewership has missed one of the main points of my channel: the use of only libre software.I will not recommend, review or test out proprietary software.I'm not going to do a video on how to "rice" Google Chrome, I'm not going give you Linux hacks for Slack or Steam.I'm especially not going to endorse proprietary services that have gone out of their way to spy on or politically suppress their users, just as Discord or Amazon.One of the many potential take-aways you should get from my channel is that the use of libre/free software, by its nature, is more constructive and extensible—that's the point. There are philosophical reasons for this you'll run across in time, but for now, suffice it to say I will not support the usage of non-free software.
emacs
Emacs has little purpose for people who use tiling window managers like I do.Emacs is also enormous, and for someone like me who often is in the habit of using my text editor to open just one file, it's massive overkill and a massive drain on time.My movement in my computer usage has been constantly gravitating to more and more lightweight and minimal programs, getting closer to the core of how Unix-based operating systems work, using emacs on top of things to replicate the functionality of my current setup violates this tendency.Everything I've ever needed to do, I can do perfectly well between vim and my WM.
A cell phone
Don't get me wrong, I own a cell phone, I just don't use it or carry it around or endorse cell phone usage generally. I use it as a house phone... except for I don't have reception at my house 😉. I can't think of a single thing that is more highly correlated with personal mediocrity more than cell phone usage. If you do use one, be sure to install F-Droid, which is a application manager for free software programs, and use applications from that.I have LineageOS installed and have no Google anything. If you want to install Lineage or another free software OS on your phone, remember to get a compatible phone that is unlocked.


25/57 - Making Free Money off Credit Cards

While I've done a video on this topic before (PeerTube, YouTube), some people asked me for more information, so here it is.

Aren't you glad to be an AMERICAN?

USAUSAUSA

In America, people are so notoriously dumb with credit and money that credit card companies can literally give out free money by the hundreds to attract new customers.For brainlets who don't bother to understand the basics of credit and debt and the fact that you apparently have to pay back the money you spend, this is like a fly trap.For non-retarded people it is what it is: free money.

Exploiting introductory offers: "Churning"

Many credit cards have introductory offers like this: "If you spend $500 on this card in the first 3 months, you'll get a free credit of $200."That would be a cool offer in the first place,but since there are so many cards that have offers like this, a pattern emerges:

  1. Open a card with an introductory offer, for example: "Get a $200 credit when you spend $500 in 3 months."
  2. Use it for your normal daily life until you spend that $500.
  3. Get/redeem/spend the credit/cashback/points on that card. Literally free money.
  4. Lock away the card and don't use it anymore unless it has some other extremely good offer or cashback perk.*
  5. Rinse and repeat, this time with a new card and new offer.

This cycle is often called "credit card churning" and some people like me don't mind living off of it.

Every year I go through a couple cards like this, making a couple hundred or a thousand dollars back.If you do the math, it can be like living with a permanent 20-25% off coupon that you use on literally everything.Individual cards will have even more perks to pump-and-dump for extra cash back.

I recommend especially young guys to try this out: it's a way of saving money, while improving your credit by paying off many lines of credit, and once you're done churning, you have a wide selection of credit cards to use for their various normal features.

Cards to churn

Here's a brief list of some cards whose introductory offers I've taken advantage of.This is just an example list, there are many more.

Card Name (Bank) Bonus Other card info
🍀 Freedom Flex (Chase) $200 after spending $500 Also get 5% cashback on groceries for the first year. 5% on rotating categories normally.
Freedom Unlimited (Chase) $200 after spending $500
Quicksilver (Capital One) $150 after spending $500
Cash Wise (Wells Fargo) $150 after spending $500
🍀 American Express Cash Magnet $100-$300 after spending $1000
Travel Rewards Visa (Bank of America) 25,000 points ($250) after spending $1000. The points are best redeemed for "travel expenses," which is basically everything from gas to groceries.
Cash Rewards (Bank of America) $200 after spending $1000
Wells Fargo Propel 20,000 points ($200) after spending $1000. 3% cash back from restaurants, gas and travel

That's it!That's all you need to know, to take advantage of this, but the rest of this page is just details that people ask about.Read on for more!

How credit card companies try to mitigate this

As I said, introductory offers exist primarily to get dim-witted people who don't know how credit works into using cards unwisely or at least normal people into switching to a different company.They know that high-agency people can exploit this system, so there are some rules they put in place to mitigate the extent to witch you can take advantage of their offers.

Chase, for example, will not approve anyone for a credit card who has gotten five other cards in the past two years.Wells Fargo will not allow you too open cards with introductory offers without a 18 month gap in between.Those are the main ones; other banks like Bank of America don't bother preventing it at all, but it's possible that they will start something like this soon.

Cautionary note for credit brainlets

I suppose it goes without saying that credit cards are not magical money devices and everyone who has a credit card should only spend what they have the account that autopays their card or even better, do what I do and never let my head hit the pillow before paying off all debts.This might sound like a condescending thing to say, but obviously some people out there don't understand how credit cards work and are going into debt for no good reason.I know everyone who follows me is smart of course, but I say this rhetorically.

When I did a video on this I was surprised to learn that there are also people that resist and detest credit cards but still don't understand them.Some people have this strange idea that merely possessing a credit cards causes debt to occur in some cultic fashion outside of your control.And for people who can't know better, maybe it's better for them to think of credit cards as essentially magical objects if it means they aren't misusing them.For everyone else, credit cards are easy to use and exploit and benefit from.

Other advantages of having multiple cards

It's actually nice to have a number of rewards cards from different companies.I will occasionally check the bank or card's web interface and there will often be additional perks especially for points-based cards.It can often mean 10% in addition to everything else from buying from a hardware store or grocery store.There are many niche businesses and I don't recommend into getting roped into buying something you wouldn't be buying anyway, but I keep tabs on if there is anything familiar.

Similarly, it's nice to have "rotating category" cards that offer say, 5% on a certain type of buy for a period of several months.TheChase cardI mentioned above, for example is giving 5% cash back on every purchase made on PayPal as I write this in Q4 of 2020 (it looks like they do PayPal every year or so).I've actually been deliberately making all purchases I would be making anyway over PayPal, just so I can maximize earnings.I'm even going to be paying bills in advance with PayPal so when they are actually due next year, they'll be paid, and I'll have the extra cash back.

Common questions about exploiting introductory offers

A lot of people hear this and think, "sounds too good to be true."Makes sense, but we live in a complex world which again is primarily targeted to the unwise.I've been doing this for years and have made back a lot of lot of money and even increased by credit score.

Let's talk about some of the concerns people new to credit card churning might have:

"But what about muh credit score?"

I'm not entirely sure why people think this, but there's this idea that somehow you're scamming or defrauding credit card companies by doing this.You aren't.You're just obeying their terms of service.You're certainly not neglecting payment or proving yourself a bad investment for a loan, which is what a credit score is actually about.

Opening new credit, including credit cards, will mean an inquiry on your account and for a time being, you'll be marked as "looking for credit."This will decrease your credit score by a small amount; it's normal.But over time, having lots of credit which you have paid off is good for your credit score.That's, like, what a credit score is.Having more credit cards and properly paid off is a great plus on your account.

"B...but that's unethical!"

You gotta be an extreme simp to see these companies massively ripping off retards and nickel-and-diming people and say something stupid like, "I mean is this really ethical?"You're an idiot.You don't deserve free money.Why use your principles to defend people who obviously don't share them?

A lot of these companies even charge people to have checking accounts.Just in case you don't know how banks work, they make money loaning out their reserves.They are already making money off of every account.Charging you extra so they can make money off you is just more icing on the cake for them.There are many banks who are less shills who simply don't do this because it's totally unnecessary.

People who think this, do you go to the grocery store and chide people who get free samples as unethical?It quite literally is the same thing except for the store never makes money off people who just take samples.A bank whose offer you exploit still might make a lot of money loaning out money you put in a checking account there or even on the credit card transaction fees they charge merchants.And if they didn't, who cares?

"Do I need a checking account?"

If you get a bonus from, let's say, a Chase credit card, do you need a Chase checking account to redeem your bonus or points?Usually not.

Every credit card company I've used allows you to set up automatic payments from another bank. So you shouldn't have to worry about remembering to paying your bills, although I usually pay everything manually anyway just to be careful.

If you get an account credit, that will appear as a negative number on your card and you will be able to spend it without paying it off.If you get points, it might be that you need a checking account to redeem it as cash, but you can also usually redeem previous purchases or sometimes receive your bonus in the form of a bunch of gift cards.

This is an important question because some companies like Chase or Bank of America will charge you several dollars a month to have a checking account open, which I find utterly ridiculous.In both cases, you can waive the fee if you have either direct deposit into the account or if you just have a certain amount of money in the account (I think it's $1,500 in the case of Chase).Either way, you can avoid this problem as having a checking account is not usually necessary.

Three important notes on Credit Cards

The psychology of spending

One aspect of human psychology is that people are more likely to be okay with spending or wasting money if they're using credit or debit cards rather than paper money.It makes sense.If you have to part with a physical object to spend something, it can hurt.It doesn't hurt as much to use a card.

I find that the antidote to this is actually in introductory offers.If I get a card that gives me a bonus for spending $500 in 3 months, I treat that $500 as my absolute budget no matter what.Bills included if possible.

Additionally, I started pasting sticky slips on the back of my cards where I keep track of the exact amount of money I use on each card so I know when I hit the required amount for the bonus.Each time I spend, I deduct that amount from the original number.This actually serves the double purpose of making the money-spending more real to me.I'm not just swiping my card, but subtracting the amount and can feel what I'm spending.

Don't use cards with annual fees.

Or at least if you do, be smart about it.

None of the cards I recommended above have any annual fees.So you can get them and not worry about canceling them.You can logically exploit the offers of cards with annual fees and cancel them afterwards to avoid paying the fee, but I don't do this myself.

Firstly, annual-fee cards are usually targeted to big spenders: their offers will be something more like "spend $4000 in the first 3 months and get $750."If you're making a big purchase, that might be worth it, but I personally am the kind of guy who feels guilty for spending too close to $300 a month.I would definitely contemplate one of these if you know you're going to spend some massive amount of money though.Don't forget to cancel it later!

The bigger issue with annual-fee cards because they are used primarily for social engineering and corporate sponsorships.That might sound strange, for example, but some cards which cost several hundred dollars a year might give you a big free annual credit on their favorite airlines or on Uber or Lyft or Amazon or some other godless corporation.That makes them work for people who are loyal consooomers of their chosen affiliates, but for most people, getting the benefits of those cards requires you to use the products they want.

I've seen some cards that give you bonuses for using them 30 times a month or something else.Sure you can juke the system, but I feel like the incentives they put forth are too strong and will probably manipulate you into spending more than you usually do.The reason I recommend the other cards I do is because you can easily spend that much if you're an independent person without feeling like you have to spend more.

Minimizing Privacy Exposure

Now if you're someone principally concerned with privacy, there are ways for you to take advantage of these kinds of offers without exposing your daily purchases.Obviously opening a credit card does require some basic information, like who you are and where you live (other things your bank already knows).But you can minimize your exposure by using the money on the card for a single recurring payment credit.

For example, let's say you pay an electric bill every month.Many power companies/co-ops allow you to prepay or accumulate a credit, so if you open a spend-$1,000-get-$250 card, you can immediately prepay $1,000, wait for your free $250, then prepay that amount as well.

In that, you've got your free $250 (and you can forget about paying bills for a year or so) and the only new thing the credit card company knows is your power supplier (which they could probably guess anyway from where you live).You could do the same with other recurring payments.

A lot of people I've talked to plan on using these offers to by over-the-table cryptocurrencies. That works too.

Additionally if you make a large purchase like a car that is going to have to be registered with "the system" anyway, it might be a good time to get one (or maybe more) of these cards.

The most important thing, however, is that you are the one ripping them off and never the reverse. Do not spend more or waste more because you feel richer because you have something that feels like a free money card.

"Daily drivers"

When not pumping-and-dumping a credit card for an introductory offer, there are also generally good cards that you can keep to maximize idle cash back.Obviously the true red-pill is using cash, but if you'd rather get bonuses from cards, here are some options I use with links:

It should also go without saying that you should have fixed costs/bills set to charge credit cards just for the free cash back.I mean if you have $250 dollars in bills a month and hook them up to a 2% cashback card, that's $60 back a year.It adds up over the years.

Again:

"The NEET will work harder than the wagie to stay out of a job."
—Nullennial (YouTube comment)
"I'm Jewish and I find this video Jewisher"
—shiran (response to my original video on this)


26/57 - Why I Use the GPL and Not Cuck Licenses

Every piece of software I write I license under the GNU Public License Version 3 (GPLv3) unless I have forked it from something else.

The GPLv3 is the premiere copyleft license, meaning that it not only allows users to run, modify and distribute their own versions of what I write, but it also requires that no one in that chain of development restrict and close-source that software: it and software deriving from it must forever remain open, usable and sharable. Richard Stallman, one of the minds behind the GPL has described it as a "hack" of the copyright system because it uses the legal infrastructure of copyright to ensure software is free rather than restricted.

But occasionally I get asked why I don't use so-called permissive licenses like BSD or MIT. These are free software licenses, but they do not require that forked versions of the code be free and open source software. In other words, you can take something written with a BSD or MIT license, put it in the next version of Windows and no one will ever know. If you did that with GPL code, you'd be in for big legal trouble if found out.

I and others have recently taken to calling these permissive licenses Cuck Licenses.

Why "Cuck Licenses?"

Why be mean and bully BSD and MIT licenses calling them "Cuck Licenses?"

Quite simply, using them is precisely analogous to being cuckolded. When you really look at it, the similarity is uncanny.

I understand GPL free software and its ethical vision for software. I also understand that desire for people and businesses to not release their source code for commercial and monetary benefits. What I don't understand is simultaneously releasing free code with no requirement that it remain free. It can now be used against you and others—if you had moral qualms about that, you could've at least made money off of it yourself.

Using a Cuck License especially for "ethical reasons" or "because I like open source software" is beyond absurd. You're simply writing code and effectively abandoning the privileges of intellectual property while allowing any large corporation to come and close-source and monetize your software and sell it back to you without any other obligations. You have also abandoned your ability to ever complain about IBM, Microsoft, Apple or any other tech giant because you are literally writing their proprietary software. These companies even sometimes take very simple code from minor projects and use it to save a buck and a little effort.

A licence cuck
When you license with a permissive license, you don't have a say anymore.

At the end of the day, using a Cuck License is little different from either releasing software in the public domain or just not licensing it (in some jurisdictions, at least). It has the pretense of a license, but for no real function. I suppose depending on which you use, you at least get your name on the license, but I hardly think that that's how internet fame and glory is actually distributed anyway. As far as I'm concerned using a Cuck License is worse for user freedom than just releasing it in the public domain. This is because at least public domain software can be taken and later additions can be protected by the GPL. The legal case for doing that with a Cuck License is not so clear.

No whiners!

The funniest thing is when Cuck Licensers complain that people are abiding by their licenses. They will complain that people took their code and made money off of it. They will complain when they don't get some social credit they feel like they deserve when their code is used in a project. They will complain if people fork their project and it becomes more popular than the original. They will complain when some tech giant takes their code and makes spyware out of it.

If they were serious about stopping any of this, they easily could've by licensing their project as anything other than a code giveaway. If you want praise for some contribution, put it in the license. If you don't want your software used for proprietary software, use the GPLv3.

A Cuck Licenser gets what he deserves (and we all pay the price).

One of the funniest and saddest horror stories of Cuck Licenses I can think of is Andrew Tanenbaum, who released MINIX, an operating system, under a BSD license.Intel silently took this software (thanks to its license) and unbeknownst to him, used it for their Intel Management Engine, making it the OS of the spyware microprocessor/backdoor now running in all Intel CPUs.We all have a permanent NSA backdoor because of the Intel Management Engine—all made possibly my Cuck License cuckery.

Only many, many years later was this even revealed to Tanenbaum.Read that blog post of his as he slowly externalizes his mixed feelings, tinged with guilt.After all, on the "bright" side, he says:

"I guess that makes MINIX the most widely used computer operating system in the world, even more than Windows, Linux, or MacOS."

Wow, what a proud achievement.But regardless, Tanenbaum already feels some regret about the fact that his permissive license allowed Intel to withhold this:

"This was a complete surprise. I don't mind, of course, and was not expecting any kind of payment since that is not required. There isn't even any suggestion in the license that it would be appreciated.

"The only thing that would have been nice is that after the project had been finished and the chip deployed, that someone from Intel would have told me, just as a courtesy, that MINIX was now probably the most widely used operating system in the world on x86 computers. That certainly wasn't required in any way, but I think it would have been polite to give me a heads up, that's all."
CIA

You can feel the regret.With Cuck Licenses, you get the worst of two worlds:You get no credit for your work, nor money for licensing fees like other proprietary software and your software will be used to violate your and other users' privacy when it is used in closed-source environments.Oh, no... copes incoming:

"Many people (including me) don't like the idea of an all-powerful management engine in there at all (since it is a possible security hole and a dangerous idea in the first place), but that is Intel's business decision and a separate issue from the code it runs. A company as big as Intel could obviously write its own OS if it had to."
emphasis added

If Tanenbaum had released MINIX under the GPL, we wouldn't be at the mercy of Intel's business decision.They would've had to release the source code for the microprocessor, keeping user privacy ensured and irradicating the permanent spyware liability all computers have nowadays.

If they wouldn't want to do that, they'd have to just write an operating system themselves.Tanenbaum is right, they obviously could've taken the time and money to write an OS themselves if they had to, but they didn't have to, because a BSD license cuck wrote it for them.Thanks a lot, sucker!Now our computers are being monitored at a lower start-up cost and we have you to thank.It would've been a lot more respectable to not use a permissive license and instead license it proprietarily if he has no moral issues with proprietary software:he could've at least gotten Intel to pay him to use his operating system.Heck, if he had used the GPL and if they took it anyway, he could become an insta-millionaire by suing them right now.

The moral of the story is perhaps lost on Tanenbaum, who finishes up his blog post with:

"If nothing else, this bit of news reaffirms my view that the Berkeley license provides the maximum amount of freedom to potential users."

"Maximum amount of freedom to potential users" is somehow mass-surveilance of every computer user thanks to the BSD license.Thanks for your contribution to "freedom."

The Freedom that Cuck Licenses "preserve"

"Freedom" is an incoherent buzzword if you don't define it.There are some people who might argue that the fact that they can't kill and steal freely is a violation of their "freedom."That's very true in some sense.

In the same way, the GPL (unlike Cuck Licenses) "violates" the freedom of all people to close-source code and hide it from the public and (in effect) do annoying or privacy-violating things with it.

The goal of the Free Software Movement, defended by copyleft licenses like the GPL is for all software writers and users to live in an environment of publicly auditable, editable and exchangable code.The goals of the Open Source movement have a similar goal, albeit often guided by practical considerations.

Janny
Cuck-licensers write proprietary software for free.

Cuck Licenses, however, undermine those goals. They will say that they maximize freedom by placing no requirement on those who distributeWhen you release any code under a Cuck License, you are simply writing free commercial code for corporations that will inevitably use it against you.You might as well just actually get a job with them so you can get paid for what you do instead of just getting cucked.When you release code under the GPL, you write free software that benefits other people who write free software.

The Free Software Foundation and the GPL people have correctly realized that just being "permissive" with licenses is unworkable in the current environment.The legal infrastructure incentivizes and defends proprietary software and gives it a systematic financial advantage.The GPL is a viral antidote to that.Obviously if all software were free and no laws protected "intellectual property" in publicly obtainable software, everything would be "permissively licensed."We don't live in that world.The GPL and other "copyleft" licenses are ways of undermining and disincentivizing and making impossible the close-sourcing of software.Not using the GPL and using a cuck license is just the same as writing proprietary because you literally are because all of your software can be snatched up and proprietarily licensed.

B...buut the GPL isn't enforceable!

I've heard some people pass around the idea that somehow the GPL is unenforceable.After all, if you have close source software, how can anyone really tell what's going on?In some cases, that might be true if you have perfect op-sec.That wouldn't be the case for the Intel Management Engine above, and that wouldn't be the case for Windows XP, whose source code recently leaked.

I have known people in industry writing proprietary software and worrying about the GPL is real.The "virus" of GPL taking over everything and making it free is something people have to take heed of.I'm sure there is some level of GPL-violation going on in some places at least, just because lifting simple routines or copy-and-pasting some things from GPL with significant enough changes could go unseen even if leaked, but integrating larger GPL programs would be nearly an impossibility.

At the end of the day, though, what does it matter?What is a totally unenforced GPL? It's just a Cuck License—Isn't that what license cucks want?So why should they care?At their very best, BSD and MIT licenses are only what GPL might be at its very worst.

The GPL is a permanent liability for any company that crosses it.Some companies might be so bold to lift GPL code and hide it, but there is always a risk and a worry that prevents its general violation.

Addendum

Are copyleft licenses always best even for freedom?

No!

Here's a question I got about this article that I'll reproduce here because it touches on something good.

[personal details omitted for anonymity]However, I read your article, and I can see your point. I have an idea for anOperating System and due to your arguments, I would definitely license thatunder the GPL, as well as any new programs I write. I might even change most orall of my current programs to GPL, with the exception of that bc, which needsto remain BSD since it is default in FreeBSD now.That said, I have a library I am working on, and my experience is thatlibraries under the GPL do not get used, unless a commercial license is offeredas well, and often, not even then. You can see this with glibc, which has aspecial linking exception and the fact that the LGPL is fairly popular forlibraries.First question: what is your opinion on the linking exception and the LGPL? Arethey Cuck Licenses? I mean, they do require that the library and anymodifications be put under the LGPL, which means that the library remains libresoftware. However, they can also be put into proprietary code, which is theentire reason you call MIT and BSD licenses Cuck Licenses.Basically, it seems as though you are correct when it comes to licensingprograms themselves. But it gets murkier when talking about libraries.[other personal details omitted]

This was my response to this email explaining this finer point.

Yeah. There are sometimes times when it is tactically better to licensethings under a permissive license if for institutional reasons:mass-adoption is required and companies and such might be unnerved bythe GPL. Libraries might often be like that. So it's not necessarily apurity-spiralling point.RMS actually advised that ogg/vorbis should use a cuck license tomaximize adoption (it originally used the LGPL, but switched to BSD):https://lwn.net/2001/0301/a/rms-ov-license.php3It's thanks to this that it has now become a usable and wide-spreadformat, used now on nearly every proprietary web service because of itssmall-size, good fidelity and general superiority.So yeah, if you're writing a standalone program, I'd use the GPL, but Iwould choose licenses ultimately in terms of which would maximize thepossibilities for users of using free-software. In some circumstances,that means using a cuck license. Same is true of the LGPL. I thinkGNU/FSF recommend LGPL only to be used when it is competing with aproprietary library, and if that's usually what you are writing, youmight end up writing a lot in the LGPL.


27/57 - Notes on Learning Languages

I get asked a lot about learning languages, so I have a few comments about it here.Hopefully I can awaken you from some dogmatic slumbers about language.

Vocabulary is the least important part of learning a language.

This is hard for people to understand because I think most monolingual people think that languages are just different word lists that people use.As a result, 101 students will manually look up every word in the dictionary to translate.This actually increases the mental load of learning a language because people have the idea that to speak it, they have to think of something in English, then translate the sentence word by word, then say that.What a pain.

So what is a language if not words?It really is a set of constraints as to how words can go together: what order they go in when modifying each other,but also languages are morphology.Verb endings and tenses and such are literally the most important part of a sentence.If you don't have a productive and reflexive use of verbs, you are literally just going to be reciting nouns you know like a monkey.

This is actually why I recommend people learning Romance languages or German to use Michel Thomas's audio.Thomas doesn't lecture at all about what he's doing, but he focused only on using verbs and building up basic expressions from the bottom up until it's understood reflexively by students.To actually learn any language, this is more or less what you are going to have to mentally do anyway in the process.

I would say it's actually possible to fluently speak a language knowing only about 50 words.If you understand the "grammar" of a language, you can basically get by anywhere anytime with a couple dozen words only.What words you don't know can easily be figured out, but you can't wing it with grammar and you can't wing it with morphology.

Computer metaphor

Granted, the same is true of programming "languages" as well, weirdly enough.No one would think "knowing a [computing] language" means just knowing all the function and variable names.The important thing is knowing the syntax of how you put functions (loosely verbs) and variables (loosely nouns) together.After all, variable names are always different and functions can be easily invented too or called from some obscure library.Someone who knows a language is someone who can use its syntax to produce novel expressions.If you take a Python script, replace its functions with C functions, it's still Python, just calling a bunch of undefined functions.People can only get away with even sort of believing this in the domain of human languages if you just don't know enough and end up assuming that all languages just work the same.

Then what is a language?

So really when you learn a language, you can't look at it as new words, but new patterns of speech that interconnect in a logical way.

Speaking fluently in that language means being able to use and combine its basic constructions into complex thoughts put in words.This is why I'm really against "translating in your head."If you're doing that, you're not actually using the language.You're teaching yourself a silly English-word-replacement game.I know it's very hard for word-thinkers not to think in words, but if you can't stop doing that for a second, you're not going to be able to learn a new language.

You will not learn a language by consoooming media.

There's this lazy idea that somehow if you passively sit around and watch people using a language this will somehow endow you with the ability to flexibly produce a language in the same way you see others using it.People want to believe it because they want to be able to watch TV or play a cell phone game like Duolinguo or valueless Rosetta Stone-like software and somehow gain competence in a language.

It's not going to happen ever.Learning to play a boring computer game using words from a different languages is not the same as learning to speak the language.

You might say of "just listening to speech" that "that's what children do," but that's not true at all.Children try pretty hard to participate and understand conversation.They sometimes have a desperate personal need to understand each passing sentence and hear the language they are trying to learn for hours a day for years.You watching some forgettable movie in the background as you play with your phone don't.

Are you actually thinking?

If you want to know if you are actually learning a language, ask yourself that.People are weirdly afraid against actually thinking through things and making new expressions in other languages when that's exactly how you learn them.

A lot of language nerds love to email me about their Anki cards or their harebrained schemes for mass-memorizing words as if they're an Asian studying for a chemistry test.Given what I've said about "learning words," you can guess my opinion on that.Once people abandon the lazy route, sometimes they take up the via dolorosa: the route of suffering and assume that training themselves like a Pavlovian dog will help them become fluent in a language.

In reality, the only question that matter is: "Are you actually thinking?"Are you actually going through the mental process of creating new sentences in a new language?

When I was learning Latin obviously I had no Latin-speaking friends and could barely get my hands on anything Latin-related.But after I learned the basics of the language I started thinking in it constantly.First that starts in my always implicitly translating English song lyrics or ads in my head into Latin.That's actually difficult if you're dealing with something modern and idiomatic.Not as bad with church songs.As time goes on, I would overtly remember things in Latin sentences instead of English.If I mumbled something under my breath I would make sure it was Latin.At all points in time, I was thinking about how the language was structured and what it meant to produce sentences in it.

The sad fact is that most people who "learn" languages in school treat them as advanced cross-word puzzle like games where they don't actually think in the language, but have hilarious mnemonic devices in their head for relating what they want to say in English with something in the language they're learning.

Translating is a bad habit.

If anything, you should become worse at translating the further you go on and the more independently you can stand on your own in another language.

Latin is a good example.I can read and comprehend Latin very well, but if asked to translate what I'm reading, I find that more and more difficult the better I read Latin.Now it's easy for me to report the meaning of a passage, but phrase-by-phrase translation is something you have to think through because Latin and English are structurally very different.This isn't just word order, but even how a Latin speaker approaches expressions and the kinds of phrases they use can translate only very delicately into English.

The problem nearly doesn't exist between English and Spanish, which are basically the same language.I'm sure someone who only knows Spanish will feel like English and Spanish have many differences, but in the context of other languages, like Latin or Chinese or Japanese, it's hard not to view English and Spanish as having basically the same kind of syntax 95% of the time.That actually goes for most modern European languages.

You sound stupid if you don't sound stupid.

Every language has its own set of phonological rules that determine what particular sounds are said how and where.Phonological rules give us "our accents."When someone speaks English in an accent, they are really just speaking English using the phonological constraints of whatever language they're more familiar with.If they speak English competently, there's at least some extent to which they are abandoning their native phonological rules.

When you first start learning a language, you might read something aloud and say "I sound stupid."This is because your natural way of speaking is obviously to say everything with an accent consistent with English.You can probably remember the apathetic jock in Spanish class or whatever who religiously pronounced every Spanish word he mindlessly read with an almost intentionally non-Spanish accent.

To actually speak another language is to adopt the phonological tendencies and even the prosodic and tonal traits of that language.When you initially do that, you will probably sound very stupid to yourself since violating phonological rules you're familiar with always sounds wrong.If you do overcome that illusion of felt stupidity, you won't sound stupid when it counts.If you refuse to improve your accent immediately and from the beginning you will sound like an utter moron forever.

There's actually a trick too: when you imitate a foreign accent, you are actually implicitly adopting the phonological rules of their language that you have noticed in real life.My suggestion is when you are starting out, read the other language in what you'd guess would be a stereotypical accent of the person speaking the language.If your imitation is good, you're speaking their language without an accent.

"The Critical Period" is fake.

That reminds me.

There's an idea in academic and clinical linguistics as well as popular culture that children have a magical plasticy of the brain that makes them uniquely good at learning languages.This is supposed to be the reason why children learn languages "fast" and adults don't.I think this is a myth.You don't have to send me all the "proof" about this (don't worry, the Universities of Georgia and Arizona would've failed me totally if I hadn't seen it for my linguistics degrees there).I sort of assumed that this was true for years, but on further thought, I think it's just a conspiracy of irrelevant data and copes...or at least, it's not nearly as true as people pretend it is: adults are just about as capable of learning languages in most senses.

After all, think about it, children actually take several years to function in a language,which is often much longer than an adult that knows what he's doing.The Michel Thomas style tapes which I alluded to above are good at giving an adult a passable diving-board for a language in about 8 hours.It can be done.You can also give an adult a crash-course in phonology and articulatory phonetics that will make it easy to understand and with practice produce the sounds children take years to master.

The motivation of a child and adult are utterly different.A language-less child has lots of reasons to invest most of his mental life in attention to language.Apathetic adults don't.

What I really get sick of is doomer adults who cope with their laziness by talking about how hard it is to learn a language as an adult.Many adults still learn languages all the time.There is some circumstantial evidence that infants cue into some acoustic cues and other things quicker than adults, but I think in most cases we're just looking at infants semi-consciously honing in on what details they've acknowledged to be linguistically relevant.In reality, developed humans have huge institutional and intellectual advantages to learn.


28/57 - Academic

Medieval sciences

Table of Contents

Papers and Memories...

Here are some old academic papers that I mostly wrote as term papers and such in graduate school. People occasionally ask out of interest.

By the time I got a year or so into my Ph.D. at Arizona, I had pretty much not intention on continuing in the charade of academia, therefore, they are usually out of the mold of normalcy for the field since most of these papers I had no intention of ever "publishing" in "academic journals."

Master's Thesis on External Possession (April 2015)

Not actually that interesting, at least I don't think.

Syntax doesn't exist (May 2016)

I wrote this back for that old throwaway seminar class that Tom, Massimo and Chomsky put on (this was actually before Chomsky officially relocated to Arizona). Most of the students in the class were just undergraduate communists who didn't know anything about linguistics and just wanted to be around Chomsky and therfore had to survive abject confusion and suffering. The class was really fun and I just talked to cute girls or us graduate students just goofed off. This was actually when I decided to get my first ThinkPad.

...Oh yeah the paper. It actually was the first inklings of "my idea" written in this highly disorganized paper in less than a day. The idea is that alternations in languages that seem strange all occur because they are attempts to try to optimize between phonological and semantic constraints. Syntax is not an autonomous engine with idiosyncratic constraints, but just a shorthand we use to talk about these strange things that happen to make phonological structure acceptable to semantic structure or vice versa. I argue that extraposition, the EPP and some other things all are phonological repairs and we don't have to posit some extra constraints in the language faculty to model them ad hoc.

Scope marking... yep, it's prosodic too. (May 2017)

A very short paper I wrote for one of Mike Hammond's classes. Not even sure it gets the point across, but I really like this idea. Languages like German can have residual wh- words in places through which they have been raised: scope markers. I noticed a formal similarity with noun phase stressing in a cited Kimper article. I argue that German scope marking is actually the same pheonomenon, based on that interesting idea that Richards had about phonology driving wh- movement.

Prosodically-driven word order (September 2017)

I argue that syntactic word order is just an epiphenomenon of prosodic, rather than "syntactic" parameters. Ultimately, all languages simply place subjects, objects and verbs where they will recieve the appropriate stress level, and where this is ties in with independent prosodic rules of each language. I use Optimality Theory to model this as some cruel joke and because this was a qualifying paper and I had to do something conventional. I don't really take it seriously as a scientific tool.

Indo-European Particles and Word Order (November 2017)

The most boring class I ever, ever took in my 20 years of schooling from kindergarten to Ph.D. was Heidi Harley's head-movement seminar. Just thinking about that room lowers my testosterone. Actually, I need to go lift right now...

Thankfully, the only thing we had to do for that seminar was write a paper. (We may've had to present articles a couple days, but I must have suppressed that level of boredom.) Obviously I was not going to write something about head-movement (which is some silly theory-internal idea of Generative Grammar), so I wrote the paper on Indo-European particles and how they affected a change in word order over time from SOV to SVO. This was obviously not the kind of paper expected and I wrote it dismissively, but the argument of it is solid and interesting.

A Critique of "Reason" (December 2017)

Finally, not a stupid linguistics paper. On my issues with the Kahneman and Tversy's "heuristics and biases" program, with various support from Gigerenzer and Taleb. I wrote this for a class of Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini's I took which if I remember right was technically an economics/neuroscience class. Massimo is a big fan of Kahneman and Tversky, but I've always found their work basic and predicated on clumsy hyper-rationalism which ends up not being rational at all. I explain in the paper: Actually read it.

Game Theory determines quanitifer scope interpretation (April 2018)

I argue that Chomskyan syntax is not equipped to properly deal with quantifier scope interpretations. I present a framework that assumes that speakers use and assume their languages' constructions to communicate scope given certain universal constraints assuming the priority of surface scope and economy principles. Nearly all normal and abnormal scope judgments fall out for free from this method, which is analyzed with Game Theory. At the end: flexible syntax (across either a whole language or a specific construction) ends up entailing universal surface scope, while syntactic rigidity causes scope ambiguity. BTW, look at those cute little LaTeX charts...

The Shivasutras and Neural Nets (April 2018)

This is actually probably a ditsy paper, but it was my last paper I wrote in graduate school and for a class I never actually went to. I don't really remember what it was even a class on. I think Mike Hammond was the professor? Maybe Robert Henderson? That's how much I paid attention my last semester, and I wrote this paper as a larp.

I had been reading classical Indian/Vedic grammars and the Paninian stuff. We had been talking about the "interpretability" (or lack-thereof) of Neural Nets so I wrote a little piece on the Shivasutras, which order the phonemes of Sanskrit in a unique order to be able to refer to them in Paninian grammars with the greatest economy. I make the statement that these classes of phonemes are analogous to the intermediate nodes of a neural net, which often appear to have no real-life relevance, but one often appears at an extra level of abstraction. For example, it becomes very easy to model the Indo-European ablaut system via the Shivasutras since different lines show the different grades. Sanskrit grammarians of course had no direct knowledge of Proto-Indo-European but in the interest of formal economy, end up discovering aspects of its grammar.

The Indo-European Tapes

Since I had a background in classical languages and Indo-European studies, a couple of my friends wanted to put together a little reading group to learn about Indo-European stuff. We covered all the basics of Indo-European grammar and reconstruction and basic lore, although we fizzled out after only a couple weeks.

For my personal records, I actually recorded these meetings on my phone (it was actually mostly me lecturing and all of us making jokes). The audio recordings are extremely messy, with every bump on the table audible, but they are listenable if you care about the topic.

I also made some handouts which have also survived. I'm uploading these in ogg because it's a superior format. If you're an Apple/Mac user, suck it up and get a real audio player.

  1. Week 1 Audio: Basics and Phonology (handout)
  2. Week 2 Audio: Ablaut, Morphology and Indo-Hittite (handout)
  3. Week 3 Audio: Divergence and Syntax (handout, examples)
  4. Week 4 Audio: Paleohistory and Migration (handout)
  5. Week 5 Audio: Greek, individual languages (handout on Greek)
  6. We got lazy after this and the group ended! Good while it lasted.

If someone is good at cleaning up audio, I would be very grateful if you could do a number on these; email me and I can provide the lossless originals for that.

Note also that these tapes were recorded back when I cursed, so you can get a snippet of me still saying naughty words.

Video Talks

The embedded videos here are from PeerTube. These are all on YouTube if you prefer (to see all the extra comments or whatever).

Biolinguistic Clarity in Generative Syntax (2015)

Reveal the video.

Shortly after I finished by M.A. at the University of Georgia, I ended up returning to help with a conference they had started recently. Some guy canceled at the last minute the day before, so I volunteered to invent a talk in 24 hours. It was more of a comedy routine, but here it is. I consider the actual ideas behind this talk underdeveloped and totally superseded by the ideas I illustrate above in those paper on syntax and phonology, but this is a good idea of the kinds of things I was thinking around 2015.

Language as Synesthesia (2017)

Reveal the video.

slides

Tom Bever had a cognitive science seminar for graduate students and this was my presentation for it. Most of the other grad students were in cogsci or philosophy, nonetheless, I did a pretty linguistics-heavy talk.

"Linguistics Isn't 60 Years Old!" (2018)

Reveal the video.

slides

My last semester at Arizona, Simin invited me to present a day in one of her grad classes on the history of linguistic thought (she actually invited me to present a lot because she knew I liked teaching or just talking about these issues, while she is totally burned out on it (I actually was her assigned assistant for an undergraduate syntax class, and I ended up teaching about a third of the days just because I wanted to and she liked taking vacation)). Anyway, as we all know, I mostly like old books and old stuff that no one seems to know anymore, so I talk about Paninian/Sanskrit grammar in Classical India.

As we talk about at the end, originally we planned to make this a series (I even thought of making it a goodbye tour), but that never happened. No one will ever know my hot takes on medieval European grammar.

Audio Talks

Other presentations

I have some slides and stuff from other presentations, and I might upload them here when I get the chance.

Don't go to college!

Just in case anyone sees this page and thinks, "Oh wow, look at all the cool things Luke was doing in graduate school! I should go too!" Do not do that. I want to make it clear that if any genuinely intelligent and curious person whose goal is inquiry without reservation, you will find nothing but frustration and suffering in contemporary academia. Particularly Arizona was very cultlike, stifling and uncomfortable. I stayed alive by being blasé and jocular about things, as you may be able to tell in some of those recordings, but I want to make it clear that I regret going into a Ph.D. program and I consider it the third biggest mistake of my life. I will never get those years back, and I sorrowfully regret it.


29/57 - Reviews of All Linux Distros (That Matter)

Firstly, once you reach basic competency in Linux, different distributions don't matter. A lot of newbies analyze distros based on what they look like when you install them, often not realizing that it's a pretty simple affair not just to change superficial things like your theme and setup, but entire desktop environments. Basically all distro reviews online are wastes of time for people who know what they're doing. When I came to YouTube, all Linux YouTube was was people constantly installing distro after distro in a virtual machine and critiquing minutiae. It was a bleak and boring world. One of my first and greatest achievements on YouTube was making this video: How to choose a Linux distro: Stop Thinking!, which went semi-viral and sort of put a damper on distro reviews. Either way, I'll say what I think about different distro minutiae here.

Things that matter

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a common distribution because it is the distribution shilled by the company Canonical. Canonical has probably had a positive effect on making GNU/Linux more widely used and accessible, but Ubuntu has a lot of long-term headaches that will plague users.

That said, Ubuntu is nearly the worst distribution for new users. It is maintatined at least, but fails on all the metrics above:

  1. It advertises proprietary software in its software center and encourages users to use programs because they are "familiar" from Windows.
  2. It releases slowly and you'll run into problems if you try to install something out of the box.
  3. It is full of gimicks, the elephant in the room being the Snap system, but Canonical has thrown in a lot of junk features in the past and a lot can break.

Debian

Debian is just a more reasonable version of Ubuntu: it separates free and non-free software clearly—it has a optional version that allows unstable and testing packages for some recent software and it has so few gimmicks it's probably the most boring distro!

I haven't used Debian much as a desktop system (I do use it on my servers), but the package manager and even the release speed of the testing versions isn't quite fast enough for me personally.

Artix and Arch

Artix is the distribution that I use and have been using for a while. It is really the same thing as Arch, except for Artix allows the usage of different init systems (I use runit).

Arch and Arch-based distributions are "bleeding-edge" in their release time and have access to the Arch User Repository (AUR) allowing the single widest software library of all major Linux distributions.

Artix offers many installable desktop-environment ISOs for newbie users, but thankfully they don't over-bloat them with gimmicky features. Arch itself only has an official minimal installation, and that's kind of its thing.

If I had to choose, Artix is the distribution that I recommend for both novice and most veteran users.

Manjaro

Manjaro is another Arch-based distro. I've even recommened it before for new users in the past and installed it on many people's computers in real life, but I will admit that my view on it is souring. They have definitely started to go the way of Ubuntu by adding lots of extra features, directly people to rely more on flatpak and "harmful" systems and generally adding more layers of abstraction between the user and the system.

All the good things that can be said about Manjaro can also be said of Artix, which also has easy to install ISOs, so I consider Artix the superior system.

Parabola

Parabola is the FSF-approved, all-free software version of Arch Linux (it also has an OpenRC version for soystemd-haters). In the abstract, Parabola is my optimal distribution, but I don't actually use it anymore for two reasons:

  1. It uses the Linux-libre kernel, which is all free software, but networking will not function with laptops with proprietary wifi cards.
  2. It is not quite as well maintained as Arch and Artix, and you'll be a little more likely to run into package breakage.

The second problem isn't the end of the world, but it can be annoying.

Gentoo

Gentoo is one of the best distributions and excels in all of the 4 requirements I give. Not only is non-free software obviously separated, but it isn't too difficult to have your Gentoo install with a Linux-libre kernel if you want.

Gentoo is also unique because it is a source-based distribution: you can set basic compilation settings for your programs and have a lot of control over them. While Gentoo is very well maintained, you actually end up with a good bit more control over your system. That is a responsibility that has some prerequisite knowledge of course, so Gentoo has a reputation of being difficult to install.

If you want to look into Gentoo, you should first be familiar with Linux and what specific kind of system you want. When you first install Gentoo, because you can customize it so specifically, it obviously helps to know what exact network backend you're comfortable with, whether you want to use GTK or QT, or many other little things that a Linux noob might not know too much about.

Void

Void is another great distribution. It's notable also for using runit instead of soystemd, having a musl version, and having a package system reminiscent of Arch, but in many ways more minimalist and extensible. It again separates free and non-free packages, and has a wide repository of them, included even more installable via the xbps-src system which is somewhat analogous to the AUR, although unlike the AUR, I don't believe it's quite as easy to update packages.

Void has had a somewhat tumultuous development culture. It was originally the brainchild of one man, one man who went missing for a year... After he returned, drama eventually caused other member of the team to encourage his retirement. Either way, while I used the distro for a while and was one of the first people advertising it online, I never remember this translating into any downstream problems on my computer.

Distro not here?

This is only a list of distributions that I've used for a bit. I don't do "distro reviews" or just install random distributions just to test them, so if it isn't here, I'm not going to have an experience-based opinion.


30/57 - Only Use Old Computers!

Dream ThinkPad
The ideal ThiccPad.

If there is a single point of advice I can offer novice computer users, it is stop using modern computers.

If you look at "technology YouTube," part of my neighborhood, but I more mean the massive multi-million subscriber channels, nearly all of it is devoted to constantly reviewing and comparing every new computer, processor, graphics card and product. There's big money in it because obviously all of these companies put money in it, but also if you're a normal person, you automatically assume you need the "best" technology.

Do you need a modern computer?

Absolutely not. More than 95% of people could be using a computer from 2008 or before without any problems. Needing a recent machine is limited to people who:

  1. Do extreme, professional, processor-intensive video-rendering.
  2. Compile massive programs and operating systems. (I'm not talking about your little suckless programs.)
  3. Play recent triple AAA video-games on high settings.
  4. Use many massive Electron apps and other inexcusably bad software written by soydevs and other people who shouldn't be writing software.

The last two reasons aren't really real reasons at all because they are totally unnecessary and avoidable things.

But to the point, watching YouTube videos and using a word processor does not require last month's new release.

Every video I upload, I transcode for settings optimal for YouTube, meaning I render each video I record. On my computer from a decade ago, that still takes only a couple minutes. A fancy $5000 computer might be able to do it in less than one, but it is honestly not worth the pain associated with modern computers.

How much should a computer cost a normal person?

Either nothing or just around $200, I say. I use a ThinkPad X220 I got for $90 on eBay. Before that, I used another ThinkPad X220 I also got for $90. Like anything else, if you are buying things on Amazon, you're doing it wrong.

The Pain of Modern Computers

Modern computers are more breakable

As computing has become more and more popular, companies have started to realize that a consumer's first reaction on having their $5 wifi card die is immediately buy a whole new computer. This means two things: (1) they don't bother to make computers easy to repair, in fact, they make it more difficult for people to repair their computers (2) there is absolutely no need to make computers durable at all. In fact, it's probably better to let computers break so you'll get yet another sale.

Apple is by far the most anti-social computing company because of this. I'll let the larger tech channels show you the specifics, but every Apple product is brilliantly designed to make it difficult to fix very basic and otherwise fixable problems. They have quite a racket licensing out the ability and tools to companies that want to fix their terrible hardware. Apple even used pentalobe screws just so normal people couldn't open their computers up with a typical screwdriver. Of course nowadays every other computer manufacturer imitates the Apple style where apparent "sleekness" is supposed to be a signal of high quality.

Modern computers are increasingly monitoring devices and come with proprietary junk.

The Management Engine

You might've heard that all Intel i3/i5/i7 processors (that is, after the Intel Core 2 Duo) have an onboard alternate processor that is meant to function as spyware. This is called the Intel Management Engine. It can view your memory and connect to the internet: basically all modern computers have this permanent back door. In older computers, say the ThinkPad X200, you can, with a little hardware action, remove the other processor and replace the proprietary BIOS with Libreboot or Coreboot, but that is not possible on more modern computers (you can install Coreboot on a more modern machine, but not all of the components of the Management Engine are removed).

More recent computers, however are non-removable spyware by design and, yes, the NSA can monitor any machine with a Management Engine. There are actually even rumors that one of the taps that the FBI under the Obama administration put on Trump during his campaign was a Management Engine bug.

Note that AMD (Ryzen) processors have what they call a "Platform Security Processor" that is equivalent to the Intel Management Engine, so you're not escaping the issue by using one of them.

NVIDIA

Again, unless you play modern videos alone all day, you literally have no reason to have a modern computer, especially one with an expensive graphics card. NVIDIA is a great example because they make graphics cards and develop proprietary drivers for them to make it harder and harder to use them on machines that aren't running whatever the most recent spyware variant of Windows 10 is. Linux works perfectly on all computers ancient and modern, but if you plug some NVIDIA thing up to it, you might lose your screen or not be able to boot. A lot of gaymers whine about their NVIDIA products "not working" on Linux without realizing that is by design. NVIDIA and other companies and all CPU designers go out of their way to keep their source code and standards private which makes their products tangibly worse because it is harder for other parties to write drivers for them. Why? Because most of them have partnerships with Microsoft.

The Problem of Windows

How many times have you heard a normie explain to you that their computer is slow because it's "really old" and they bought it "way back in 2015?" It's an absurd statement of course. Computers don't just get magically slow... ...unless they've been running Windows.

In the future, once even Microsoft has switched over to a purely Unix-based backend for their operating system, we're all going to have a good laugh about how Microsoft Windows, literally the worst and least functioning operating system ever devised, was the largest consumer market share for decades.

I might go into how Windows is poorly designed in another page or video, but I want to be clear that there is no such loss of speed on any Linux distribution, which is what you should be using. I am one of the first to complain about the feature bloat of the Linux kernel and Linux software, but compared to Windows, it's no contest: Linux runs fast on old hardware. You'll know from some of my videos, however, that I'm not big into "Linux Evangelism," mostly because it's sort of strident and doesn't really work with a high success rate. Using Linux is just something that normies have been immunized against (mostly because "It's what smart people do"), but I always find myself in a position where someone's Window installation has permanently crashed and they're at the awkward decision of having to buy a license to reinstall the dysfunctional and slow operating system they've grown to hate.

There is quite literally no problem that normal people have with computers that is not immediately alleviated by installing Linux.


31/57 - Learning European Languages (Michel Thomas)

Map
From Gottfriend Hensel's 1791 Synopsis Universae Philologiae

I've said on a couple livestreams that the ideal way for an English speaker to begin learning or excel in learning other major European languages (Spanish, French, Italian and German) is to use Michel Thomas's audiotapes. They can be found for free on Pirate Bay and other sites, but you can also buy them on his official site.

This style of audiotapes is so far above any other, it's hard to even put it in words. They make really exceptional promises: "learn a language in 8 hours" and in some sense I'm inclined to agree.

They certainly give a reflexive foundation that makes learning anything else about a language very easy. There are multiple courses and they're worth listening to multiple times until it's a totally internalized.

Explanation of the Method

The tapes all have Thomas locked in a room with two people who don't know the language, one male, one female. Thomas simply teaches and illicit basic responses from the two students, teaching them as they go. As the listener, your part is to say the proper responses to yourself before the example students. At all points in time, the students are creating novel sentences, combining basic concepts.

Lack of vocabulary

Probably the most important part of the tapes is the lack of vocabulary taught. You don't get 20 irrelevant nouns with each lesson to memorize that you don't even now how to use. What new words you "learn" are mostly shared in common with English. The goal is to make you fluent before you have to memorize words.

Thomas, instead, actually teaches the language and how to be constructive in it: the verbs, the verb inflections, how to combine them, basic pronouns and the like. Only once the students understand them does he move on to the words for real-world objects. Thomas will sometimes explain why he does this in the course, but it amounts to what I've said in other places: you can guess or figure out nouns or talk around them, but if you don't know how to put verbs together, you just don't know the language and you can't even fake it. It is much easier to learn nouns after you actually learn the structure of the language and can actually use them.

Lack of "comprehension"

You're never told to "listen to this passage and think about what it means" in the Thomas method. The Thomas method is entirely productive: you make the sentences and you have to put yourself in the mindset of how the language works.

A lot of other audiotapes, say Pimsleur, have you sit and listen to text and implicitly ask you to "translate" it. This in essense, keeps you thinking in English, or thinking in translating mode. The also keep you chained to canned responses in a single dialog. When people do this, they ignore the actual structure/grammar of the language, listen for big noticable nouns, and then piece together what the sentence means. This is always a bad idea.

Michel Thomas actually just knows what he's doing.

It's honestly rare that you even ever see a "good teacher." By that I mean someone who can easily keep track of what his students know and can devise questions perfect to pry their knowledge. Thomas is just honestly good at this and it goes a long way. In the tapes, if he notices that a student repeatedly messing something up, he knows how to elicit better responses and remind them of what they need. This is 99% of teaching, despite the fact that it's a really rare skill.

Don't bother getting the tapes without Michel Thomas

After Michel Thomas's death (or perhaps a little before) the company running his website above put out tapes for many other languages: Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, etc. under his name. They are done "in his method" theoretically, but they are no good. They do weird things like have two different teachers: one who instructs the students and one who is a native speaker of the language to say the sentences in it. I think the idea behind it was to make sure you hear a "perfect" accent, but it's a total waste and the sponteneity required for actual teaching is lost because you have these two different people trying organize among themselves. I think the teachers lack the introspective skill to keep tabs on the students' learning that I mentioned above, so all-in-all, I think they're awkward and fake.

Donovan Nagel (you may know him from his YouTube channel on BSD) gave Michel Thomas a negative review after using the "Michel Thomas" Arabic tapes. I listened to part of the Chinese tapes and they were not worth it (if you want to learn Chinese I've written about what I recommend).

But the real Michel Thomas tapes: Spanish, French, Italian, German, done by the man himself, are the best for all their respective languages.


32/57 - Wanna Learn LaTeX?

Table of Contents

  1. What is LaTeX?
  2. Installing LaTeX
  3. LaTeX Video Tutorials

I have a full video tutorial series on learning LaTeX, broken into small sensible parts, here.

What is LaTeX?

Basically, it's how big boys write and format documents.Every public brief, scientific article, book, cryptocurrency whitepaper or even outline written by people who know what they're doing is written in LaTeX.

If you want to see examples of documents made with LaTeX, you can see my Master's thesis here or another paper here that shows some diagrams and other features you can have in LaTeX. Of course, LaTeX documents can be infinitely customized.

Writing

"Is it hard?"

No.It's sort of like learing vim.People complain about how hard it is until they take the bare minimum of time to learn it and realize how much more effective they are with it.The return on investment is massive.I wrote the thesis above in LaTeX in around a week of learning from the bare minimum.

"How is LaTeX different?"

LaTeX is a markup language, meaning that you write documents in whatever text editor of your choosingand instead of manually moving margins and placing things yourself, everything is optimally placed when you compile the document into a .pdf.

Markup languages are great because they separate the task of writing from the task of formatting.It's somewhat similar to the difference between HTML (a markup language) and CSS (which does styling) and Javascript (which does scripting).LaTeX does the equivalent of all three, but it allows you to do them all separately so you can easily extend documents.

"Why is LaTeX better than Microsoft Word and friends?"

"But Word has some of those things!"

Niche features that basically no Word-user uses. Also they change with every new update. This is the primary operating structure of LaTeX.

Installing LaTeX

The core LaTeX package (texlive) is fairly small, but I highly recommend you download allthe LaTeX packages out there at the beginning (a big download).This is nice because as you learn more things, you won't have to manually download new packages.You'll be able to experiment with new LaTeX abilities through new packages seamlessly.Here's how you get them:

Once you've downloaded and installed that, you have a fully-featured LaTeX engine on your machine!You can make lots of amazing things that you don't even fullt realize yet.

LaTeX Video Tutorials

Basics

First thing to learn is how to compile documents with pdflatex and the basic principles of the TeX lanugage.In this first video, I talk about how basic text, paragraphs, titles, headings and more work.This in itself is enough to make a professional write-up.

Click to Reveal Video.

Numbering and cross-referencing

As you make more complex documents, you'll want to automatically number andinterrelate section, figure and other numbers together. LaTeX makes this supersimple, and make it even easier to copy your file into a new file where it willautomatically update all cross-referenced numbers.

Click to Reveal Video.

Bibliographies with Biber and BibLaTeX

Bibliography management is a huge plus in LaTeX through biber. I haven'twritten a bibliography in more than half a decade due to the fact that LaTeXonly needs a bibliography file of metadata and autogenerates citations for anyneeded source.

Click to Reveal Video.

Images and Figures

TeX isn't all text either. You can insert and nicely format images in a waythat they are optimally placed without too much human interference.

Click to Reveal Video.

Macros to make things easy

As you do more specific things, you might want to make your own macros and functions.This really makes things easier, and you can do very complex things very elegantly.

Click to Reveal Video.

Slide Presentations with Beamer

LaTeX isn't just for printable documents either.You can change your document into a Beamer presentation, allowing you to present it as a slide show similar to Microsoft PowerPoint's.

Click to Reveal Video.

Making a Professional Résumé

Here, I also give some extra pointers while I make a résumé.

Part 1

Click to Reveal Video.

Part 2

Click to Reveal Video.


33/57 - Learn Latin

Smug Roman solider

Latin was the first language I learned and has probably been the most useful. Here I'll talk about some of the things it's gotten me and some recommendations for how to learn it well.

What I've gotten out of learning Latin

You get multiple languages for one.

Latin, as you probably know is the ancestor of Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, etc. Once you know Latin, it is quite literally downhill learning any of these. In college, I decided to take Spanish for a degree specialization (I was doing an international business thing and required a foreign language). Merely based on my knowledge of Latin, I just tested into fifth-level Spanish and figured it out from there. I don't even remember learning Spanish, but I can speak it and still do every once in a while.

In grad school I took classes taught in Spanish and French. I can basically read all Romance languages. I even read Rhaeto-Romance poetry for fun (the languages of Switzerland). All of this is nearly free stuff when you learn Latin.

Latin will unironically red-pill you on many subjects.

Looking to other cultures in the world might change your view of things in some superficial way, but looking into the past will revolutionize how you see it. A recurring point I make in many contexts is that the past is literally an alien civilization. Most of what people pretend they know about it is repeatedly cited modern rumors about it. Seeing it in its own words is very different.

It's insane the amount of writing done in Latin in the medieval period and antiquity, so much of which isn't even on the mind of translators. A lot of historians just cite modern historians. Theologians cite modern theologians. Scientists cite modern scientists. Once you crack open a traditional book on any of these subjects you realize the provinciality and oblviousness of modern "frameworks."

In generative linguistics, people who have never read anything written before 1950 pat themselves on the back for all the "problems" they've solved not knowing they are only retreading paths long established by Stoics, Modistae and early Indo-Europeanists. There are a lot of theologians and philosophers who are trapped in modern citation circles because they don't have the power of Latin that can bring them in touch directly with Aquinas or Augustine or other philosophers of the early periods.

Knowing Latin is like an academic superpower and supposed intellectuals will fear you. Latin used to be the bare minimum of a respectable intellectual... actually... you know what, it still is. Now is your chance to have an actual one up over more pompous people whose only function is writing lit reviews with a disability to read original sources. Being privy to an original and long-neglected source will be a continuous content mill which will unironically be the envy of others in academia.

Knowing Latin is better academically than an undergraduate degree in linguistics.

The process of learning Latin and the lore around you will equip you with all the terminology and principles to make you superior to someone who just studies "linguistics" without any actual application. I really mean this. When I was a grad student in linguistics, all the brightest undergrads had one thing in common: Latin. I actually came to judge people based on how they first got interested in linguistics. The smartest ones always started with Latin, the biggest plebs always started because they liked some Steven Pinker book (sorry Pinkucks! Those are the honest facts!)

How to Learn Latin

Magister et discipuli

What I used

When I learned Latin, all I had was a copy of this book: Collar & Daniell's Beginner's Latin Book. The truth is that most old Latin books are good (old being at least 70 to 100 years old). After language learning became commercialized, it all became dismissable. You can see a list of downloadable Latin textbooks and other materials here here.

The only other source I used in the past to learn and read Latin in a biglottic Latin/Greek New Testament (i.e. Greek on the left and Latin on the right). This is probably actually the single most significant book I own, now that I think about it. I learned Greek from it too and I've had it for around 15 years now.

Lingua Latina per se Illustrata

Although I didn't know about until later, there is another very unique and excellently made Latin series called Lingua Latina per se Illustrata "The Latin Language Illustrated by Itself" by Hans Orberg. You can see an English publisher here, but you can also find them on eBay or pdfs on Library Genesis or Pirate Bay (along with audio for the books).

LLPSI is unique and really stands out. The entire book, including explanations is in Latin. Latin words and grammatical concepts are explained by illustration and example. This sounds absurd frankly: how are you supposed to learn a language from a book written in that language? But the design is so perfect that it works.

I recommend to get LLPSI and some classical grammar primer like Collar & Daniell's because I think especially for newbs, it might be necessary to have explicit instruction about grammar points in English.

Read this

Read this article: "Latin by the Dowling Method." It's back from the early internet and its recommendations have stood the test of time and I agree with them.

Latin links

You may've known about these already, but they're worth noting.


34/57 - Command Line Bibles

The Dead Sea Scrolls

I've made a couple very useful command-line accessible Bibles for a quick and scriptable lookup of Bible verses and passages. They exist not only in English, but for Latin and Greek as well.

  1. English King James Version (including Apocrypha) — Github, Gitlab, Local git server
  2. Latin Vulgate — Github, Gitlab, Local git server
  3. Greek Septuagint & New Testament — Github, Gitlab, Local git server

Installation

git clone https://github.com/lukesmithxyz/kjv.gitcd kjvsudo make install

Or just replace kjv with vul for the Latin version or grb for the Greek.

Usage

Single run

Run the program name followed by a passage. The text will appear to you in your pager. Arrows or vim-keys to scroll, q to quit.

kjv rev 3:9Revelation3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 

Note that you may also give whole books or chapters. kjv genesis will give you all of Genesis. kjv mat 1:1-10 will show only Matthew 1:1-10. Note also that you can usually abbreviate books.

Searching

/ searches for patterns. For example, kjv /offering will search the whole Bible for the word "offering." You may specify a book/location before it to search only that book.

Interactive mode

Just type kjv (or vul or grb) alone to enter interactive mode. You can then just type verses/books without prefixing them with the command name each time if you prefer.

Origin

I forked the original software from this repository which is an incomplete English King James Version (without the Apocrypha). With the use of coreutils and vim, I found online texts of the Apochrypha, Vulgate, Septuagint and the SBL New Testament and formatting them to function with this program.


35/57 - Why It's Bad to Have High GDP

To put it in other words...

The common way of looking at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is that it's a metric of economic success: more GDP is more wealth.Wealth is good. "Poverty" (meaning low per capita GDP) is bad.Nowadays, pretty much everyone talks about "economics" like this as if this truism was scribbled on the back walls of the cosmos.

This is just looking at one side of the ledger in a kind of global double-entry accounting book.A logically equivalent way of looking at it is that GDP is a metric of economic exchange required for survival in society as it exists.You can say that some area "produced" $1 billion of output (sounds good), but you can just as easily say that $1 billion was required for that area to sustain itself (sounds bad).These two are simply logically equivalent.

Living on $1 a day

Hyperborea
Antediluvian Hyperborea. GDP: $0 per year.

Let's dive into the Gestalt: when you hear that a family of eight lives on less than a dollar per day (PPP adjusted), you might wonder how they manage!To actually do such a thing would require buying large bags of rice for the whole family, eat only that and live in free cardboard boxes.

The reality is that that often uttered phrase means that they use less than $1 a day in the general economy, while the rest of their livelihood is "off-the-grid" or self-sufficient.They may grow food in a family farm, hunt for food, and most of their daily needs from cooking oils, to plates, to pottery, to soap are often made at home as well.

There is still "an economy" but often one that is barter based or socialist in the real pre-socialist sense of the word: mediated by direct face-to-face social tit-for-tat between neighbors and friends, none of this mediated by currency being exchanged, thus it is not part of the GDP.

If you read about some Bangladeshi village where the only product is "textiles", that doesn't mean that everyone there makes textiles all day and, without a textile company, everyone would've starved to death.It means that the only on-paper, measurable global industry practiced there is textile manufacturing.Other villagers might farm, hunt, even do some kind of gathering in some places.They will produce the arts and crafts and live the way people live when you leave them alone.If your view of the world is mediated by GDP, you're only seeing the extremely small sliver that pops into existence when people exchange something involving legal tender.

This is extremely difficult for us modern bugpeople to understand because to be a bugman in a large city is to produce absolutely nothing on one's own and buy literally everything you need from the store.To us non-productive people, GDP means income which means survival.But the further out of Bugmanville you go, the clearer the vacuousness of GDP becomes.When you realize that most of human wealth is unmeasured by GDP, you realize that Whig History and Steven Pinkerism is based on shaky foundations.

Example

A minor example.We had a large Thanksgiving feast near my uncle's house in very rural Florida.As it got cold in the night, we had a fire in a repurposed old sugar cane cooking vat artfully standing on used symmetrical cinderblock pieces.A bugman hipster might pay two hundred dollars or more for a similar looking "authentic" piece of equipment. Those $200 would be counted in the GDP.A bugman hipster might have also bought or rented chairs for the event, "contributing" more to the GDP, but my uncle, as part of the local wholesome church community, simply borrowed some from the church.Thus our event produced basically no GDP output in goods or services, despite being functionally equivalent to some similar but expensive and ergo "productive" "Friendsgiving" practiced by urbanites.In reality we are richer than the bugmen hipsters who blew hundreds of dollars on a faux-folksy party.In this case, we owned the firepit and had easy access and permission to the chairs, thus we are more economically flexible than they are.That GDP that they produced/expended is evidence of deeper reliance on the economic system.That GDP output is a marker of fragility, reliance on the conditions of the outside economy in the same way that a village of Bangladeshis who abandon their traditional way of lives to work on textiles are more fragile, despite being able to save up for iPhones.

What GDP really measures

Most of the increase in GDP across the world is simply the movement from local partially-social partially-under-the-table economies to economies mediated by taxable currency.An economically self-sufficient village with close social relationships and a barter economy has 0 GDP.A township of entrepreneurs and artisans you partially barter and partially use currency which they don't report has 0 GDP.All of these people are "in poverty" and "earn less than a dollar a day".And if you want to be truly self-sufficient, that means having a personal GDP of zero.

More than that, pretty much everywhere, GDP is a strong indicator of social upheaval.If you think that GDP is some eternal goodness, remember that everything "good" about industrialization shows up in the GDP, while at the same time, everything bad about it will not show up.Or, sometimes bad things are registered as positive economic growth: urbanization has caused mass-disease, and if that means a market for new medical services and pharmaceuticals, great!The GDP just went up!The Ganges is polluted due to the textile plant? That just means more opportunities for local entrepreneurs to sell bottled water!The GDP just went up!Are people being pushed out of fishing or other subsistence occupations because of it? Even better! Now they have no choice but to contribute to the GDP!With every passing year, in fact, more and more of the GDP is produced by dealing with the problems that our higher level of GDP have caused.

At the end of the day, GDP is only a measurement of how reliant a place or country is on the global economy.Self-sufficiency has a GDP of 0.Wasteful consooomerism has an extremely large GDP.

Planned obsolescence

I have one of my great grandfather's early electric circular saws.It has a bunch of gunk in it, but it still works (although I recently took it apart to replace some old screws and springs and other little parts to be careful).They literally do not make circular saws like it; it's all metal, while even the fancy modern stuff is mostly plastic.

The "unfortunate" thing about it and other durable tools is that it's "bad for the economy," especially the GDP.Since that thing has been around since maybe the 50's or 60's, that's as long as 70 years the economy has gone without the "stimulation" of us having to buy another saw.

Viewers of my technology videos: Which would be better for the world, if everyone used the material equivalent of a classic American-made IBM ThinkPad, or some Apple Laptops that are unfixable computers made of mostly batteries designed to conk out right before the new version comes out?Regardless, the Apple Macs that cost thousands a piece are much better for the "economy."

That's what I mean.If you have quality tools and do not need to constantly throw money at the system to buy things, fix things and otherwise waste money, you are going to be having a lower GDP.That's just how it is.

The propagandistic role of GDP

When you don't think things through like this, GDP is supposed to appear as an objective measure of economic goodness.You're supposed to be looking at those GDP charts and saying, "Wow, my life might be terrible, I am not free, I am subject to forces out of my control, and I am told I have to participate in mass-consumerism to survive, but these charts are the facts[!], and the facts say that things are better now, so I believe them!"

It's legitimately surprising to me how big of a boon the idea of increasing GDP is for Whig history and NPCs of many different ideologies.People of the Left and Right will matter-of-factly tell me that a plastic based economy taking over the world is still good because the line is going up.I've heard it as a justification for everything:

Don't like globalization?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't trust state-funded institutionalized science?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want child drag queens?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want everything to be made of plastics and other petrochemicals?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want mass pornography?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want free sugary drinks since infancy?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.

When you abandon the illusion of GDP, you are suddenly able to ask whethermassive technological "progress" has actually been good for real humanlife and human pychology.


36/57 - Science vs. Soyence

Soyence

There's nothing necessarily wrong with science, reason, knowledge etc. To some degree, they're fundamental for survival in this world in one way or another. But one of the more worrisome problems which have arisen since the Enlightenment, and especially in the past several years, is the fact that whenever scientific knowledge has increased, human arrogance has accelerated even faster. This isn't a metaphysical, moral arrogance; it's one that is more and more jeopardizing the human cosmos.

We live in a pop-scientific and pop-technological world. Because common people are constantly weighing themselves down with new gadgets and state-of-the-art genetically engineered food, there's a tendency to want to pay homage to the amorphous blob of "knowledge." Of course, much like the Greek Gods, we cannot seem to speak to "knowledge" directly, or to mentally murky academics, but only to official mediators: journalists and "science communicators" and the like.

The religious metaphor is intentional. Of course the actual view of Popperian science is that scientific "advancement" is less of an increase in knowledge than a decrease in falsity. We can never be sure of what is true, but we can gradually establish what is false and contradictory; science does exclusively the latter. Real scientific work refutes and calls into question established fact and is in a constant self-regeneration. Facts mean nothing in themselves.

And scientific models, from our models of the atom, to models of the Earth's weather and climate, to models of our body are highly circumstantial, and as a rule, will nearly all inevitably be proven false. Theories are the narratives we cast over facts which have not yet been ruled false. We know nearly nothing of how the brain works. Sure, we know there are synapses, and we know what brains end up doing in some circumstances, but we haven't begun to scratch the surface of how a brain is actually engineered (computational models be damned). The same is true of the human body and is especially true of human society.

Now Neil deGrasse Tyson has the annoying mantra that he repeats at every possible opportunity, which goes something like: "the good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." First off, I don't know what's good about that; it'd be pretty damn convenient to live in a world where we could imagine away gravity or CO2 or cancer, but aside from this, science, actual science as a critical methodology is manifestly not true and is not the truth. Science is a way of marginally approaching truth by discovering falsity, and in most endeavors, this approachment is so marginal as to be inert in all our daily lives. There is nothing to "believe in" in science anyway, because it's an exposer of non-truth.

But in pop-science, Science® is "knowledge" and deviation from the scientific catechism is "irrational." It's not just irrational to dispute consensus, but irrational to fail to implement it in your personal life.

In Practice

The greatest danger of pop-science is the unquestioned assumption that life should be led "scientifically." That we should "look for evidence," "question everything," and universally "challenge authority" (unless that authority is a professor). The problem should be blatantly obvious in hindsight.

An obvious example: in the 20th century, Western societies had to deal with the very real problem of a bizarre increase in lung cancer rates. We "know" now that smoking tobacco and other substances apparently cause drastically higher lung cancer rates, but this was lost on the people at the time.

The relationship between smoking and cancer was highly circumstantial; there were some statistical correlations established, but as any pop-science guru will tell us "correlation is not causation!" For decades, scientifically minded people looked for evidence while millions more died. Smoking companies took refuge in the fact that there was no mechanism understood behind how smoking could cause lung cancer. With all scientific rigor, they insisted for decades that the increase in lung cancer was due to something else, or merely an increase in diagnosis capacity. And they were on the side of scientific skepticism!

Only now that there is some understanding of how carcinogens in smoke can damage the lungs can we say that the "scientific consensus" is that smoking causes lung cancer. Cute, but if people had been "irrationally" cautious, the human tragedy would've been substantially mitigated.

The problem is that "looking for evidence" before acting or non-acting is personally and socially dangerous. In nearly all circumstances, our intuition (crafted by millions of years of evolution) or social norms (which keep us to established safe routes) are much better guides to life than the scientific consensus, despite them being "irrational" (and sorry, religion is part of this too). When someone guzzles down some newly fabricated energy drink or gallons of soda, they're nearly certainly damaging their bodies in ways science does not yet understand. Don't wait 40 years for some longitudinal peer-reviewed study to prove that eating plastic is bad for you. Trust your instincts before you give credence to some YouTuber who says inane things like "There's no evidence that..."

My favorite little "irrationality" that we all commit is of course, sleep. After millennia of trying to understand it, there is no established scientific reason or justification for why humans "need" sleep. Sure there are hypotheses (memory processing, repair, maybe even something Freudian), but none close to common currency. In the words of one of the world's most prominent sleep researchers, William Denent, "As far as I know, the only reason we need to sleep that is really, really solid is because we get sleepy." Of course the absence of logical evidence to the necessity of sleep keeps no NdGT fan from wasting their time on the "Bronze-Age Myth" of the importance of sleep.

(Not) (Mis-)Understanding Complex Systems

The human body is a complex system in which every "system" is overlapping, somewhat redundant, all-affecting and fundamentally beyond linear analysis. Our scientific studies can find binary variables that correlate with a low p value, but that tells us nothings about what's actually going on and nothing about the underlying mechanisms. Again, the same is true of the human brain and the same is true of human society. Nothing is a simple input-output system.

What this means is that basically nothing from the world of pop-science can ever affect the basics of our lives because the interaction of our component parts are just non-amenable to any kind of generalizations that make intuitive sense to us. Everything we do affects out bodies in ways we can't predict so the proper strategy is always an "irrational" precaution and avoidance of novelty.

Things, of course, get especially touchy when talking about the "rational" management of society. Every good denizen of the post-Enlightenment world, even most of those on the "Right" have the idea that the economy and social relationships are simple one-to-one hydraulic systems that can be managed like a little steam engine. Now we've been rationally managed to hell and not back (and the solution is always more rational management).

The terrible truth is that traditional social norms are irrational and still do exist for a reason in the perennial gale of social evolution. Social change and social progress (note the lack of scare quotes) have always been happening, but only now do we have the naive idea that the units of society (people) have the competence to design and contribute to an otherwise unconscious evolution of social memes.

Anyway, I'll give the last word on this issue to Noam Chomsky, who somehow manages to say something clear and admirable on the subject:

Science is a very strange activity. It only works for simple problems. Even in the hard sciences, when you move beyond the simplest structures, it becomes very descriptive. By the time you get to big molecules, for example, you are mostly describing things. The idea that deep scientific analysis tells you something about problems of human beings and our lives and our inter-relations with one another and so on is mostly pretense in my opinion—self-serving pretense which is itself a technique of domination and exploitation and should be avoided. Professionals certainly have the responsibility of not making people believe that they have some special knowledge that others can't attain without special means or special college education or whatever. If things are simple, they should be said simply; if there is something serious to say that is not simple, then, fine, that's good and interesting. We can perhaps find deep answers to certain questions that do bear directly on issues of human interest and concern, but that is rarely true.

"'Science' 'Communicators'"

One of the worst aspects of all of this is that this understanding of pop-science encourages people to distrust what they know or can judge of the world in favor of the caricature of the consensus of institutionalized academics. People have this idea that there are these intellectual, peer-reviewed demigods in universities who discover the secrets to the universe and communicate them through their messengers stationed at BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. Betraying their infinite wisdom would make you "irrational" or a "fundie." The reality is that these demigods really just went to graduate school because they were lazy and initiativeless, and even in the abstract, most of their real work has nothing to do with your life whatsoever. It's only the messengers that convince you of that because it stimulates their power trip.

Science journalists, much like journalists generally, are people too incompetent and emotional to work in the private sector, too dumb to be academics (and the standards are abysmally low these days), too full of themselves to work in charity and too bumbling, weak and arrogant to work in a blue collar or manual occupation. Journalism is an attractive career to many because it demands the least rigor and honor and promises the greatest power and influence.

Their self-ordained duty is to overwhelm the public with a confusion of "studies" that increasingly seem to micromanage a neurotic person's life. "Studies show that" classical music may help infant brain growth, or that gluten ravages the intestines, or that simply owning more books causes higher scholastic achievement, or that Vitamin C or antioxidants or kale or whatever health-food de jour solve all the world's problems.

At the end of the day, the worst part is that we talk about "science" as if it's some kind of anthropomophic creature with desires and feelings and a plan for us all. It's a uniquely modern flaw to say things like, "Science tells us that..." "Science is about.." "Science is against..." Does this not strike anyone else as creepy? The interpretation of science forced on the public is a scriptural one, where law to live life by are codified in "peer-reviewed" journals and communicated by intermediaries. 'Science's' purview is infinite and any failure to conform is some congenital failure or reason.


37/57 - Hedonism, Asceticism and the Hermetic Answer

The modern world more or less gives you the philosophical choice of either Hedonism or Asceticism.You never really hear it in those terms, but that's how it is.

Hedonism living for pleasure.Your default lifestyle is eating whatever, watching Netflix and playing video games irrespective of how late it is.You watch porn, masturbate, have sex as much as you can and any consequences of any of this are just facts of life which you view as either out of your control or worth the suffering.You might not use drugs because you are worried of the hedonistic damage it can cause, but you're at least chill with people who do.At a basic level, modern society is hedonistic because it more or less openly holds as highest moral value what can stimulate people the most.You know this is the case because anyone who condemns hedonistic behavior will immediately be judged as judgemental.

Asceticism is supposed to be the smart alternative.Asceticism is rejecting pleasure, normal life and anything else enjoyable in the world as morally inferior to some higher non-physical ideal.Buddhism, which rejects the physical world, has become a popular meme philosophy in the West and is highly acetic.Vegans are acetic: they abandon basic life for their own principles and intense vegans will eventually start talking about "transcending" and "vibrations" and non-sense.Look at the anti-global warming movements and they fall perfectly, almost neurotically into this category.Asceticism come in many forms nowadays, but it is always a reaction to the indulgences of hedonism.

The Poetic Worldview

Hermes
Hermes Trismegistus,
author of the Hermetic Corpus

The Poetic Worldview is the solution.Don't worry, it has nothing to do with poetry.

The Greek word that poetry/poetic comes from actually is just a generic word for make, create, produce.The word "poetry" originally just meant something like "creative output."

This view is tied into early Platonism and monotheism.The physical universe is a creation or manifestation or "the One" or "the Source" or really God.God is the ultimate creator, and an individual is good insofar as he reflects this creative tendency of God.We see it expounded in the Hermetic Corpus:

The other name of God is Father, again because He is thethat-which-maketh-all.The part of father is to make. To Asclepius (17), from the Hermetic Corpus

In the Poetic Worldview, the highest moral goal is creation.That can be:

From the Poetic worldview, hedonism is evil because it is expending otherwise creative energy into nothing of consequence.Racking up video-game achievements that no one will ever know or care of but you,watching pornography, pursuing fleeting relationships,impulsively wasting time browsing the internet and fiddling with social media.

This passive and impulsive pleasure-seeking reduces someone's ability to live as intended, instead, they are prisoners to their lusts and conveniences:

But whatsoever human souls have not the Mind as pilot, they share in the same fate as souls of lives irrational.For [Mind] becomes co-worker with them, giving full play to the desires towards which [such souls] are borne,—[desires] that from the rush of lust strain after the irrational; [so that such human souls,] just like irrational animals, cease not irrationally to rage and lust, nor ever are they satiate of ills.For passions and irrational desires are ills exceeding great; and over these God hath set up the Mind to play the part of judge and executioner. About the Common Mind (4), from the Hermetic Corpus

Hedonism is additionally harmful because it isn't even hedonistic.It's clumsy and self-destructive.Spend your life from ages 16-23 playing videogames, masturbating and smoking weed and you have destroyed your capacity to enjoy life, sex and have normal interactions with normal people.Your capacity for enjoyment ends and you fall into asceticism as a cope.

Asceticism is just as evil because it sees this issue with the hedonistic lifestyle and tosses up its hands in surrender.It internalizes the lie that wasteful and sinful living is somehow obviously funner—when they see they aren't actually having fun, they throw the whole world away.

Most ascetics are liars anyway.They pretend to reject pleasure and worldly things, but they often just seek it in perverted or unconventional ways.There are men who call themselves MGTOW (Men going their own way) who "swear off" women.In reality, most of them are just desperate porn-addicted men who just can't get the girl they want.

Contrary to all of this, having a Poetic view proposes that the more moral and also most enjoyable life is one where one is constantly creating something new out of what he is given.In Hermetic thinking (and, well, Christian thinking) man must hold God as the idea to emulate.Since God's principle feat is creation from nothing, our goal is to celebrate that creation by making something new and productive from the raw materials we have.

Asceticism views the material world as a mistake or illusion which leads people to reject life itself.The Poetic view is that the physical world is a reflection of its spiritual state, and what you do in the physical world reflects your spiritual stature.

The Poetic view is somewhat similar to Nietzsche's Will to Power,which was an attempt to unite both human and material sciences under the idea that the ideal is maximizing one'soutput on the external world.Will to Power is a little more morally ambivalent though; it can include destruction, while Poeticism merely values creative power.

Distractions are literally evil.

This is why I highly condemn wasteful activities like videogames and pornography and social media.They are principally habits that divert your natural energies into something absolutely sterile.Many people ask me What can I do to be more productive? and I have to say that the most important thing is to remove inert distractions and habits.

Due to bureaucratic workplaces and bureaucratic education, there are many modern people who just don't know what it means to be productive.Most of their lives might be someone trying to fill their day with busywork.Since the normal enjoyable ritual of creative output is unknown to them, this causes a kind of aimlessness and the feelings of inferiority that comes with that.

But in truth, you live at an ideal period in that you can have a highly impactful and ergo poetic effect on the world using internet technology and the higher material standard of living.The only trick is to sidestep the distractions of hedonism that turns you into a passive consumer and the apathy of asceticism.


38/57 - Veganism Is the Pinnacle of Bugmanism

People have quoted me as saying that.I forget where it comes from, probably a livestream, but I definitely stand by it.Since a lot of people labor under the assumption that my channel is about "Linux," I've accumulated a lot of subscribers that are variously nerds, furries, degenerates, coomers, libertarians, communists, trannies and among them are vegans.Some of them (I assume) are good people.

There's a stereotype about vegans that they are annoying and can't talk about anything but Veganism.This hurtful stereotype comes from the fact that it's true.

Grill

Bugmanism

Firstly, what is Bugmanism?How do Vegans fit the bill?

Long story short, a bugman is someone who rejects the purpose and role of humans in their natural environment.They reject tradition, religion, their family, gender roles, the expectation that a person should contribute to their community, etc.They might do this for their personal convenience (usually they just wanna coom outside of marriage)or for apparently rational reasons, but the effect is the same.

If you want to sum up the esoterically evil goals of "modernism" or whatever you want to call it, it is destroying the countervailing power of tradition and in its place, new social engineers attempt to dictate human values top down.If you separate people from their families, their races, their traditions and who they actually are, you can engineer TV shows, sports teams, activist movements and a million other things for them to identify with and worship.Modernism pretends to liberate people from arbitrary traditions and authorities, when in reality is substitutes natural, emergent morals with controlled authorities.

Veganism has always been one of the most radical examples of this logic.Esoterically, Veganism forces one to abandon not just their own traditions, but every human dietary tradition and leaves them at the whims of processed grains and pharmaceutical supplements for a meager survival.

That is, Veganism is highly disruptive:You can't have a normal life.You can't have a normal meal.You can't wine and dine with people and must make it an affair.You can't use traditional hand-made leather products.You can't hunt or trap for food or raise animals, even for eggs.

You become a nag at war with your family, the world around you.You are trapped within urbanite bugman society:you can't even eat in most non-urban places or foreign countries because the insane concept of not cooking with animal fats and eating and using animal products just doesn't exist.You have to survive holding your breath from one hipster downtown area to the next.

On every point, you become more reliant on macro-society.Vegans try very hard to give off "organic" vibes, but it's just a lie.Even people on the internet who "advertise" their Vegan lifestyle spend hours processing a basic meal and of course predigesting indigestible plant matter with a blender.Try and find a non-urbanite Vegan in real life.They exist, but they are an aberration.

The LARP of "Vegan for Health"

Vegans sometimes pretend to advertise Veganism because it's allegedly healthy.This is just public relations; any true Vegan, when you really pin them down thinks that Veganism at its core is a moralistic belief.Vegans are Vegans because they believe that not being Vegan is morally deficient: killing/eating animals and using their bodies is bad.That's it.

So you have your moral principle and run with it.What magical force then is making that moral principle necessarily good for your health?If Veganism were actually a good diet for humans, that would actually be a massive coincidence."Vegans for health" have to grapple with the bizarre claim that meat,exactly the food that has been viewed in all human cultures as superior and more desirableis somehow nutritionally deficient.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is Plant-based.

The weirdest thing is when Veganism is held in opposition to the Standard American Diet, as if the American diet somehow represents traditional or non-Vegan diets.The SAD is just Vegan-lite.SAD is a post-Vegan invention of the diet industry take over the past decades has been leading people into the most harmful parts of vegan diets: unstable plant-oils, processed grains as meat substitutes, etc.

The pop-cultural idea of "health" is simply "being skinny."Veganism is great at making people skinny because it is slow moving starvation (I have met some carbo-loading exceptions who fatten up).

Veganism is just to starvation what waterboarding is to drowning.If you stick with it, you will eventually die, but it's so painful in the meantime, you'll probably give up.

Veganism is rational.

Vegans are exceptionally "rational" in that they adopt the moral framework of modern society and follow it to its logical conclusion.

When you're given for your acceptance someinane religious platitudes like "equality" and "rights" along withvaguely Marxist notions of "exploitation" and "slavery" and "oppressed classes," it seems perfectly reasonable to expand that language to the relationship between predators (humans) and their prey (many animals) (or maybe pets too).

If you're raised in a time of extreme moral nihilism except for not liking the several historical events you're told that matter (usually slavery and the Holocaust), obviously you're going to glom on to what looks most like them: chickens in chains and sheep being led to slaughter like sheep to slaughter.

Honestly, Veganism by their own logic might not be far enough.There is some circumstantial research to the effect that plants have nervous systems that might feel pain as well: you could go one step further and simply eat nothing living.The Ctistae of ancient Thrace refused to eat anything alive, eating only by-products/foodstuffs like milk and honey.The Ctistae also refused to have sex, which might be something to consider since Vegans eventually lose sexual function anyway.

Veganism is rebellious.

Veganism has the same kind of "rebellion" that all other forms of leftism share.It "rebels" against the system by perfectly internalizing the system's values,extrapolating them to their logical conclusionsand thus fighting the system when it fails to meet those obviously unworkable conclusions.

Corporations started shilling vegetable oils (which originally were and frankly still are just industrial by-products) as workable replacements for butter and lard.Seventh-Day Adventists lobbied for them because of their own religion beliefs.Jews lobbied for them because they hate unkosher lard.Years later, now we know that vegetable oils are highly unstable and have contributed to the massive rise in heart disease.

Veganism is a leftist phenomenon.The psychological type of a leftist is such that they will always subordinate their direct experience to ideology.It doesn't matter if not eating meat or wearing leather or using animal products sounds hard, their suffering is more proof of a greater moral superiority.

Non-leftists can simply not become Vegans for longer than extremely brief periods.Even if a Vegan wins an argument with them, a normal person is just going to say, "I'm sorry, I like animals and all, but I can't not eat them, that's just crazy."

Veganism only makes sense in a bugman environment.

Ask a vegan why he doesn't eat eggs.He will probably tell you a spooky story about how terrible it must be for a chicken to live in a coop laying eggs all day.That might even bring a tear to a sentimental persons eye.

Out where I live, people have their chickens wandering in their yards and garden pecking scraps.They return to their coops at night to be safe from coyotes.Is there really something "unethical" in the mind of a Vegan about picking up an unfertilized egg lain by one of these chickens and eating it?

A lot of the moral logic behind Veganism falls flat outside of bugman capitalism.Fundamentally, it's another manifestation of general angst from lack of connection to the real natural world.

I say this because most Vegans are Vegans because they are softies who have literally no connection to animals whatsoever until as a teenager they watched a PETA documentary with chickens getting their heads buzzed off or pigs walking around in their own poop.

Literally think about the animals.When wild animals die in nature, they don't slowly slip away in the night surrounded by their family.They die of starvation, or by being ripped apart alive by packs of coyotes.Would you rather die by getting your brains blown out instantaneously or die a "natural" death like this?

But to the original question, it really makes no sense even for a Vegan to not eat or distribute the eggs a chicken lays... You're going to have to get deep into Marxist analysis to think that's somehow unethical.And once a chicken has living a long life of egg laying, why not quickly and painlessly dislocate its neck and eat it for dinner?If you don't, your cat will eventually gore it and it'll be a mess.

Chicken food

Animals live to be eaten.

This isn't even a metaphysical claim.Domesticated cows and pigs and chickens do not and cannot live as they exist in the wild.They have evolved symbiotically with us as sources of food.They can go feral and breed with wild boar and the like, but their composition is based on their domesticated state.

Wild game like deer have lived alongside human hunters for centuries.Their breeding habits and evolutionary development is based in the fact that a sizeable portion of their population will be hunted by humans every season.

If you actually care about "the environment" (1) you would care for humans, whose natural diet is meat and(2) you would be terriblyworried about the unintended consequences of severing one of the most important links in the food chain.

Dumb Vegan sayings

"You wouldn't kill it yourself!"

They say this whenever someone turns their eyes away from an animal being killed in one of their Vegan propaganda videos.

Guess what, I also might turn away if I see a video of a sanitation worker wading through human feces it in a sewer.That doesn't mean that I'm a hypocrite for taking dumps in a toilet connected to city sewage.

I turn away when I see depictions of amputations of gangrenous limbs in movies too.That doesn't mean I don't think it's not medically necessary.

Killing animals is actually a bad example of this because while all cultures are disgusted by feces and amputations, in most times and places (including this country before Bambi), killing animals was nothing any self-respecting grown man would react to.It goes without saying that there are many countries where people recreationally torture dogs and cats.

I don't say that to say that I'd be okay with killing dogs and cats, merely that the trained moral responses we have for them are very localized and subjective in our own modernist viewpoint.But Millenials have now been raised in a Disney fantasy-land where animals think and talk like us and therefore must share the same feelings.Vegans absurdly "imagine what it'd be like" to live in industrial farming as if a chicken's birdbrain is having an existential crisis while living in a cage.

"Veganism is minimal or more self-sufficient."

Vegans have been fruitlessly trying to meme this one on me for forever.Starvation and death is minimal, I suppose, so it is at least true in that sense.Veganism is ultimately the diet of only eating inedible garnish that looks "good" on Instagram.

Raising most animals is easier and more efficient than raising vegetables.If it's too hot, potatoes don't naturally know to go move to the shade.Yams don't eat your overgrown grass.Onions don't poop out fertilizer.Tomatoes can't pull a simple tractor.You can't skin dead okra and make leather out of it.You can't grind up old mustard to make bonemeal (that's not just something in Minecraft, by the way).

Animals are an absolutely necessary portion of any homestead in life and death.Listen, I like growing stuff. I like growing vegetables.But vegetables are just not real food...They are garnish.They are sides.They are only enjoyable insofar as they elevate your enjoyment of real food: meat.

"Veganism is more efficient or environmental."

People say that eating plants is more "efficient" because they saw an energy pyramid diagram as a kid, which shows how many prey animals are needed to maintain carnivorous animals.If we actually lived in a place where there was a calorie shortage, like a desert planet where greens couldn't grow, that might be an issue.It frankly just isn't here.We're not exactly running out of grass to feed cows. Most people are mowing their grass and throwing it away.

There are people who make really absurd environmentalist arguments against meat as well, for example, methane from cows warms the globe.Okay. Fine.So what does Veganism do about that?Are Vegans going to kill the cows for us?Should we just let them starve in the woods since we can't harvest them for meat or even milk?What about all the game we won't be hunting?Those 50% of deer annually that we won't be killing—won't they me causing pollution with the huge amount of calories they need to frolic in the woods all days?Same will all other game.Most of those arguments are cute just-so stories and they fall apart after examination.Anyone can play that game.

Let's just laugh at this for a minute...

Alright class, look at this commonly posted vegan meme and tell me why it's retarded:

Vegan protein

"Per 100 calories" shows a deception so insane you should laugh.Whoever made this image wants you to believe that the piece of steak on the fork is equivalent to the tiny broccoli head on the right.

You can compare the nutrition of both broccoli and beef at those links yourself.

In order to get the protein in a single large bite of steak, you'll have to eat more than half a pound of broccoli.Good luck.Now you know why those poor impressionable girls who go vegan bloat up.And that's only 100 calories.2000 calorie diet? Have fun.If you're famished, it's pretty easy to eat a big steak with 2000 calories (around a pound and a half of matter) and it will fill you up without any bloating or stomach pains.You'd have to eat twelve pounds more or less of broccoli or equivalent greens for that.And with all that fiber, you're going to just be pooping it all out.

Honestly, the human disgust response will stop you way before that.It's easy to eat a juicy steak without or without sauce, salt and pepper, but you'd nearly have to put a gun to someone's head to make them eat their daily 13 pounds of indigestible garnish.

Noootruits don't actually matter anyway

"Plants don't have over fifteen micro-nooootrients..."
sv3rige, at the end of every video

A lot of Vegan autism gets focused on replicating the consumption of known nutrients and minerals using only plants.The image above, in addition to being deceptive is based on a flawed idea that human nutruition is about consuming particular amounts of particular substances as if we are a perfectly predictable machine or a videogame.This isn't just a Vegan problem, basically everyone implicitly has this idea.

The reality is that those nutrients on the Nutrition Facts are a narrow realm of what might actually be relevant for the complex organ of our bodies.Additionally, there are many types of proteins and vitamins and minerals that the back-of-the-box doesn't account for.The Vegan game of saying, "we can get that too" is utterly pointless when you realize we have nowhere close to a full idea of how the human body works, only some plausible theories about the relationships between certain nutrients and what they seem to do.As in the case of some nutrients, like the falsely-maligned cholesterol is a good example of something two generations of people were told to fear and reduce only for us to later realize that our ideas about how it interacted in the body were arguably literally backwards.


39/57 - Learn Chinese

Qing Flag

Chinese is the hardest language to learn according to normies who have never tried to learn it.

In reality, Chinese is really easy. It has literally no complex morphology: no tense, plurals, gender. It doesn't have irregular verbs or nouns because it has no verb and noun endings whatsoever. It's almost difficult to explain how easy Chinese is.

The only different thing is the writing system which is I hesitate to say anachronistic. The Chinese character system is more structurally similar to Sumerian cuneiform than to English morphophonemic writing. That presents a unique hurdle, but one if properly tackled is not too difficult and also edifying. It's important to realize in any case that learning a language and learning its writing system are two separate things.

Knowing this is important for mastering or even beginning Chinese.

These are the best Chinese Books

The Yale series by John DeFrancis is not just the absolute best for learning Chinese, but they are an eternal exemplar of basically the best you can do for any language. The books all have generic names and they're linked below with audio. The books are massive. Even if you just get "Beginning Chinese" and "Beginning Chinese Reader, Part 1," you'll know around 4 semesters worth of Chinese compared to your average university course. They have free audio too. Remember that if you get nervous about their price tags, which might be as high as $50. These books are severely worth it though.

There are actually two parallel book series in the DeFrancis/Yale series: the green books, which cover the spoken language (in Romanization) and the red books (the readers) that cover characters. It might sound strange to cover the language itself and the characters separately, but it is massively superior.

The Green Books (for the language)

Beginning Chinese

The great thing about the main series is that they come with many, many exercises and drills which are actually good for individual use. Books that expect you to read something once and internalize it are irreparable.

Links are to the official Yale site. Probably better to buy on eBay or something though. Worth the money even when they are expensive.

You can get .pdfs of all these books on Library Genesis. I have physical copies, except some an ex-girlfriend borrowed and never gave back. If you read this, you better send them back!

Note that I've also linked audio that was recorded for these books, which is great. They used to cost a lot too, but now they're free! Unfortunate thing is that you can only get them via iTunes, which I know none of my subscribers have. Years ago I had just downloaded them for myself on someone else's computer so I guess that's what you'll have to do too!

The Red Books (for characters)

Beginning Chinese Reader

The reason the language in transliteration and the characters are in two books is because learning them is really two different processes. The green books are more typical language learning books. The red books/readers are different.

Every chapter, they teach you 10 characters, but with those 10 characters, you might learn to combine them into 50 new words based on them. The pacing here is for only learning the essential and most used characters as simply as possible as you advance. The readers do not explain grammar and expect you to be advancing in the green books to understand grammatical things.

The Blue Books?

I won't link them because they sort of the defeat the point, and I don't have them, but there is also a blue series which is just the green series but with the language in characters. I think it's intended more for classes that can't do the DeFrancis method due to bureaucratic constraints. If it has the exercises of the green books, that's good and all, but really the value of the system is the fact that when you do the spoken language in the green books, you don't have to worry about unknown characters and when you do the characters in the red book, that's all you need to pay attention to.

I'm not dismissing the blue books, because the quality of the Yale/DeFrancis series is still light-years ahead of all other series, but I'd stick with the classics here.

Notes about Chinese

The tone cope

I remember having normalfriends in my Chinese class (which was a waste of time, just get the DeFrancis books) who would say that Chinese wasn't too hard "except for the tones." Mandarin Chinese has four tones that distinguish words. If you've sat through your first day in Chinese class or even seen a YouTube video on Chinese, you know this.

Normies see this alien concept of having tones and they turn their brains off. There were kids in my class who said they'd "just not learn" the tones. Which is sort of like saying you're going to learn English, but not the vowels "because they're too hard."

Actually around half of the world's languages have tones. They are not bizarre or highly "marked" in an objective sense. They are much more common that the "th" sound in English. You can bear it.


40/57 - The Parable of Alien Chess

A parable on the Logical Postivist "interpretation" of scientific models.

Alien

The Parable

Suppose an alien race comes to Earth and wants to observe our games.They are very interested in chess, despite the fact that they have eyes with properties that make it impossible to make out what actually happens on a chess board.(The whites and blacks and squares all blur together.)

They can still learn about chess experimentally, they know they can sit two players (a so-called "white" and "black" player) down to play it, and they can tell behaviorally who at the end wins.

After extensive experimentation, they realize this: 50% of the time, the white player wins and 50% of the time, the black player wins (we'll ignore draws and any first-move advantage for the example).

The "best" model

A logical positivist alien thus creates the ultimate, long-term model of chess as an iterated game:Chess amounts to just a drawn-out coin flip.Half of the time white wins, half of the time black wins, just as if they were tossing a quarter.

The aliens then decide to model chess as a coin flip, as a 50-50 game with no underlying principles.While this statistical technique might not be useful for predicting a single game, over the long run and over iterated games, it is the most efficient and parsimonious possible model.

"Inferior" models

Suppose, however that a "crank" scientist of the alien race posits that "God doesn't play dice" and that chess is a more complicated game, despite the fact that the aliens cannot observe it.Suppose even he asks around and determines from humans that there are actually pieces on the board with functions, and he even devises a machine that allows his alien eyes to see the first move of the game of chess.

Seeing this move allows him to create a new theory and model of the game,one that takes into account the first move made and he tries to generate a new set of probabilities of victory based on that move.The model he makes, is of course highly arbitrary, stipulated and ad hoc.In fact,this model is inferior on many inevitable accounts.For example:

  1. It is less predictive over iterated games than the coin flip model.
  2. It is not as parsimonious/minimal as the coin flip model.
  3. It adds new variables to the theory (pieces) that are suspect.

Which model is "right?"

Which model is closer to truth?

Since we, unlike the aliens, are not prevented by defect from observing chess, we know that the second, "inferior" theory of chess is truer.Its theoretical categories, if apparently arbitrary in the eyes of the aliens, are getting at the actual underlying mechanics of chess.Even if the model is less effective, it is certainly righter.

Which will cause fruitful scientific inquiry?

The coin flip model is a scientific dead-end.Firstly, the coin flip model is constructed statistically, which presents the underlying mechanism to be randomness, and thus unworth of inquiry.This isn't statistics hoisted above random variation we know to exist, instead, it's utterly blind statistics that covers over whatever principles underlie it.

Secondly and more importantly, in order to actually improve that model, it has to lose empirical solvency:embracing the abstractions of pieces means introducing mess anddeviating in some way from the empircal generalization that half of all chess games are won by white and half by black.

This is not an abnormal circumstance.

The parable here, really an example is not abnormal.In most affairs in science, whether that be physics or neuroscience or economics or chemistry, we are exactly like the partially-blind aliens.

"But science isn't about truth!"

Yeah, it is dude.

Even if you are pretending that science is about "models" or fitting equations and the like, again, the well-fit model is impossible to perfect, while the flawed, yet more true to reality model does have a potential over the long-term to be a superior one.After exhaustive inquiry, an alien race might not only discover the pieces and the full set of rules behind chess, they might be able to predict what moves are good or bad and predict individual chess games.Even on the standards of mere instrumentalism, the mindless positivistic theory is still actually inferior.

Local maxima

Local maximum

The plot

One of the ways I visualize science and models is that each model is really like an n-dimensional optimization plot."Truth," or if you deny truth as metaphysics, "accuracy in data" or "well-fit equations" are upwards and the goal of science is to get further that way.

At the point you're at, you can tell which direction you can go to move upward, or, which little changes you can make to improve your model.That is what incremental science is, after all: don't change assumptions and just fine-tune your equations.The endless fine-tuning is sometimes thought of as "progress."Of course I don't think that this is bad, but it is a very minor and scientifically less important part of science as a whole.

The reality of incremental science is that once you're at a local maximum, once you've fine-tuned your equations about as perfectly as possible,it's over.Everything next to you looks like a disimprovement.It looks just like those inferior theories of alien chess that posit the existence of pieces.From that, you might erroneously conclude that you have found the global maximum, whichdue to the nature of the complexity of the universe and the multiplicity ofpossible answers and theories, you flatly haven't.

Logical positivism is kind of theoretical lobotomy that implicitly tells scientists that they should never, ever, ever change foundational assumptions:tweaking equations like an oblivious autist is Science®️ and everything else is "philosophy" or "metaphysics" or "pseudoscience."This amounts to keeping each scientific field on whatever local maximum is closest, utterly unable to extricate themselves from it even when they see on the horizon abberant data.If you want to understand the stagnation of science or any other specific field, this is where it comes from.

Purposefully "bad" science

In Against Method, Paul Feyerabend, in what an unreflective mind might misinterpret as a "troll," says that it is important for science that people have biases, financial interests, interfering religious and political doctrines and the like in science.Looking at the plot, you might now see why.When we are stuck on a local maximum, every new data keeps our already-optimized model where it is no matter how low that maximum actually is.What you need to shake it up is an external shock that totally moves our theoretical position somewhere new on the plot where we can try to optimize at another point, and then compare.

Basic assumptions

A prudent person should be able to question, "Am I even on the right track or am I playing with some model that has a fundamental flaw?"I can guarantee you, optimizing for data and fitting math and equations is easy.All theoretical programs are wrong because they make incorrect core assumptions.This is very hard for the ego of scientists because it means:

  1. Possibly illiterate dilettantes on the internet might see and bring to attention legitimate theoretical flaws.
  2. All the years you spend in graduate school counting angels on pinheads in your respective theoretical framework is mostly a waste of time.
  3. The borders of science are borders more of a sociological club than being the border of raw rigor.
  4. Most of the scientific work is not meaningful outside of the theoretical framework that gave rise to it.


41/57 - We Want Our 4 Causes Back!

Aristotle, a medieval depiction

Aristotle, in his Physics argued that there are four causes behind everything that exists. These causes answer the question of "How" or "Why" something is the way it is.

The Material Cause
The material from which something is made. E.g. the stone of a statue.
The Efficient Cause
The external force that causes something to be made. E.g. the artisan and his tools who make a statue.
The Formal Cause
The form or plan of the thing made that define it. E.g. the artisan's written or thought blueprints or sketch of plans for how to make the statue.
The Final Cause
The goal and reason of the thing. E.g. the purpose for which the artisan is making the statue.

If the statue lacks any one of the four causes, it will not be made.

The Demise of the Formal and Final Causes

If you want to point your finger at a single philosophical change that defines the shift from the Aristotelean worldview of antiquity and the Middle Ages to the materialism of modernity, it is the rejection of the Formal and Final Causes in the early Enlightenment.

Just ask your modern brain: "Does everything really have a purpose?" You will probably reflexively think back "No," therefore, you do not believe in a Final Cause to everything. The same is true of the Formal Cause, both of them seeming to assume that there is a kind of conscious agency behind the action. That isn't strictly speaking how Aristotle intended them, but that's how they are interpreted through modern goggles.

You can see their rejection as early as the 1600's: Francis Bacon in Novum Organum pushed aside the Final Cause as only being only suitable for inter-human behavior. The Formal Cause, he dismissed merely as desperata "hopeless." He actually dismissed the vocabulary of the other two causes as being superficial and an irrelevant distinction too, but philosophically, they are still retained in his philosophy by other terms.

In any case, modern people do not believe in Final and Formal Causes, or if they do, not for everything in the cosmos. For Aquinas and others in the Aristotelean world, the question of whether the universe has a purpose or a formal plan is a kind of tautology. Of course it does! Everything non-random does in Aristotelianism.

The Final Cause in Nature?

Now our post-materialist view of the Final Cause is sort of different from Aristotle's original view. We have to remember that Aristotle viewed grammar and cognition as something that in some way was directly reflective of reality itself. Compare this view shared with the so-called "Speculative Grammarians" of the Middle Ages, "speculative" coming from the Latin word speculum "mirror", since grammar reflects reality. This common strand stretches from Aristotle to those influenced by his work like Priscian and Bacon (Roger (who was based), not Francis (who was p. cringe)).

Nowadays we atomize questions like "Why" to the point that even causality itself doesn't mean anything and is a mere human cognitive convention, but for Aristotle, the linguistic existence of "Why" questions means that there is a legitimate logical equivalent to "Why" in reality.

Aristotle originally had argued that it is appropriate to refer to the Final Cause of something whenever it is not due to randomness or spontaneity. The example he uses is the growth of human teeth: there is no variance in where the molar and incissors grow within the human mouth. Everything appears where it's "supposed to" and we can assume that there is some kind of Final Cause behind this.

If different shapes and sizes teeth grew in different locations of the mouth, then it would be appropriate to talk of them as lacking a Final Cause. Things that appear randomly and inconsistently do not necessarily have Final Causes, but if something happens invariably, we can trust that it has a Final Cause.

Darwin "Got It Wrong" too?

So how far are moderns willing to take the rejection of the Formal and Final Causes?

One of my old Ph.D. advisors, Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini wrote a book with Jerry Fodor called What Darwin Got Wrong. You can withhold your kneejerk reactions; it's not a creationist book or anything, but it almost ended up being as controversial—it's a critique of Darwinian natural selection on "philosophic" grounds.

I will stultify one of the main arguments for brevity's sake: "How can we reasonably talk about evolution as a goal oriented process when we have admitted already that speaking of Final Causes is illegitimate?" Massimo and Fodor do not use the Aristotilean terms, (instead they talk of Gould's spandrels) but that's what they mean.

Evolution would only have been "scientific" in Medieval Europe

Darwinian natural selection is actually a kind of cheat idea for materialism. In order to understand how humans have arisen from common descent with other animals, we want to have a narrative of why we speak, why we are bipedal, why our bodies are mostly hairless, etc. etc. Natural selection offers an answer without reference to a conscious incremental designer (God), but it smuggles back in the Final Cause: "This evolved to do that."

But if we actually limit ourself from talking in purpose-driven/Final-Cause statements, the most communicative "scientific" thing we can say is "Humans share a common ancestor with other animals, but we became different." The issue of "Why" is dreaded "metaphysics." In truth, we actually need a Final Cause to understand anything. The Final Cause, as Aristotle notes, is really the most important cause, because understanding it is key to understanding something in its greater context. Understanding something intuitively largely ammounts to knowing its Final Cause. Darwinism came to be accepted as a theory because it cleverly smuggled in illegal metaphysics that we were having withdrawal symptoms for. When you really think about it, this totally withdraws Darwinian selection from the ledger of supposedly scientific topics if you took such standards seriously (I don't).

The funny thing is that people can easily be made to become hyper-material anti-metaphysicians or lax on everything depending on circumstances. Fodor and Massimo partially wrote their book as a critic of "adaptationism" and evolutionary psychology, which were and still are bugaboos to the political left because they seek to explain minutiae of human social life, including hot-button issues like gender differences and race, in the light of Darwinian natural selection. Leftists like Gould and Lewontin would dismiss such explanations as "just-so stories," as would science-popularizers and the press, but Fodor and Massimo argue that this is an argument you cannot avoid generalizing once you make it. It applies to all of evolution: if it is philosophically illegitimate to talk about human sexual dimorphism because that reads a Final Causes into evolution, then it is equally illegitimate to talk about any other kind of change as being purpose driven by "selection."

This books was received with mostly hostile confusion by the mainstream press and I suspect most biologists which mostly missed the argument and were languishing in the culture wars of the Bush Years. Mind you, I don't agree with the book, but it's mostly because I don't care to endorse this kind of materialism, but most people do indeed at least claim to abide by it, so these arguments would be important to address for them.

Just a "linguistic" argument?

At the end of it, any evolutionary biologist will be tempted to throw up their hands and say "So what!" to that philosophical objection. After all, it sure feels like some kind of technicality or argument from the way we linguistically talk about evolution. And they're right! In truth, Darwinian evolution is a useful theory specifically because it is a method of giving us a Final Cause for gradual evolutionary changes. That's the whole point afterall. If it didn't give us a Final Cause, it wouldn't be an explanation. Striking the Formal Cause from scientific vocabulary is only a recipe for the typical postivistic science status quo of denying any "metaphysics" to your science while just tacitly assuming it all.

Return of the Formal Cause?

What about the Formal Cause? That is, what about the idea that everything must have a form/plan behind its creation? If we are willing to concede that a Final Cause can arrise from natural selection, what about a Formal Cause?

While I'm on Fodor and Massimo's book (who again, are not talking in Aristotelean terms themselves), they actually do end up resucitating the Formal Cause as well, albeit in a more purposeful way. While the book beats around the bush, I can say that in my conversations with Massimo at Arizona, he really does think of evolution as not being an issue of natural selection. Instead he (and Noam Chomsky as well) has the view that complex features in biology evolve from in-built genetic parameters whose complex interactions can also produce fully-formed design. This is the kernel of Minimalism in linguistics.

Now in presentations, Massimo always loves to talk about those species of jellyfish which with a single simple genetic change, develop highly complicated proto-eyes even without a direct need. One minor genetic development can produce structure as complicated as a primitive eye. This is not uncommon in biology because many complex structures are simple derivatives of simple principles. The general name for this is emergent properties and are said to be based on so-called Laws of Form.

Laws of Form are actually a big topic of conversation in linguistics nowadays, Chomsky's idea approaching the idea that one single and very simple cognitive change could be enough to produce the human language faculty. (This is totally contrary to the pop-idea of language abilities slowly arising from behavioristic cave-man grunting complexifying over centuries).

It should be obvious that Laws of Form, Fibonacci spirals, golden ratios, apparent ordering and other emergent properties arise naturally from the universe without the obvious need of conscious planning. This is not a rejection of the Formal Cause, but states the truth that it is universal. "Form" needn't just be a conscious plan like the sculptor's plan for a hunk of marble, but a form that emerges from natural principles.

Even a Materialistic Universe Generates Formal and Final Causes

In trying to escape the Formal and Final Causes, modern science has really made them more irreplaceable. Laws of Form emerge from very simple computational operations and define the formal structure of things that arise in nature. At the same time, any kind of selective pressure or survival mechanism like Darwinian selection will naturally produce structure arranged to a goal. Understanding anything is quite impossible without referring to its Formal and Final Causes.

For the Aristotelian up until Newton (the last of the magicians in J.M. Keynes' terms), this is us uncovering the Mind of God. While words like "God" make moderns queasy, it's legitimate to ask why the Formal and Final Causes as concepts should. Final Causes are by definition universal where unchecked spontaneity occurs. A conscious human mind is not a prerequisite for them, neither for Formal Causes.

You actually can keep even a very clumsy materialism while accepting these traditional notions. Indeed, to understand something's Final and Formal Causes is to truly understand it such that the Material and Efficient Causes seem like mere details.


42/57 - Hating Brave is Cool!

I like and use the Brave Browser.It's a free and open source browser with features like:

  1. Ad-blocking by default.
  2. Tracker-blocking by default.
  3. Anti-fingerprinting mechanisms to prevent you from being monitored.
  4. Built-in Tor windows.
  5. Run by a based Christian and not furry leftists.

As far as I'm concerned, Brave is indisputably the best general-purpose browser out there.There are other okay browsers, and I'll mention things about Brave I don't like, but Brave is especially good because it comes with all of these sensible features out of the box (you don't have to go install an ad-blocker), so this makes it very good for installing it on your grandma's computer.The anti-fingerprinting abilities are even unique among power-user browsers.

Despite that, there is a loud clique of anti-Brave agitators and Brave skeptics.Whenever I do a video on Brave, I can expect at least 20% dislikes and a torrent of comments from people with anime avatars calling me a "shill" for recommending this browser.

This, I suspect, is because Brave has an optional extra feature: Brave Rewards, which is "too good to be true."

Brave Rewards

By default, Brave blocks all ads, but users can turn on "Brave Rewards" to voluntarily view occasional ads and will receive a small amount of Basic Attention Token (BAT), Brave's cryptocurrency.The ads don't mess up webpages by appearing in them, but appear in their computer's notification system.

Brave's entire motivation is to replace traditional ads that fill up webpages with these kind of ads that share revenue directly with the web page owners and the people browsing the sites themselves.Ad companies disappear, the internet debloats and users and actual sites get a direct cut.

The Archetypical Brainlet Brave Skeptic

The fact that brave has exploded on the scene so quickly make me suspicious. There's money involved somewhere.
—Comment on a YouTube video of mine

Yes.Because Brave users literally get money to browse with it.Duh.

So there is no conspiracy theory about this.Brave just does everything right as a browser and they give you free money.In the Basic Attention Token system, companies buy ads and the revenue is shared directly by the owners of sites and the people who view the ads.This cuts out the middleman ad-companies from the internet.It removes and disincentivizes bloat in webpages.This is a drastically more effective and bloatfree way to monetize the internet than old-school ads.Or, you can just keep the default functionality where there are no ads.

I literally have people post on my videos constantly about how Brave is a big scheme and "you'll never see a cent of that money."Meanwhile, literally every Brave user, including me, gets a monthly payout.You can even receive your payout directly in US dollars if you want!Even if the Basic Attention Token framework totally flops, it's not like you're putting any money into it.The worst that can happen is you saying, "Oh no, all I have left is the browser with the best out-of-the-box functionality!"

It reminds me of the joke of two economists walking down the street.One says, "Hey look, there's a $100 bill on the sidewalk!"The other one replies, "That's not possible, if there were, someone would've picked it up already."

The anti-Brave crowd's argument is always some form of "it's too good to be true."In reality, you don't realize how inefficient and wasteful the previous way of internet ads was.Why pay an ad agency with employees to pay website developers to put ads into the actual code of websites, contorting it all into a mess?The BAT system and Brave just cuts out the middle man and keeps webpages clean by allowing ads to only be shown when wanted in the user's already existing notification system.The goal of the BAT project is to universalize Brave and perhaps similar browsers which block ads and trackers by default, thus cutting off the very lifeblood of that inefficient and anti-social system.

If you still don't trust the BAT project or think it's gimmicky, great.By default, the "Brave Rewards" system is off.Complaining about Brave because it has an optional feature to make money is like complaining about another browser because it has an add-on you don't plan on using.

Tactical Ignorance

I use to love brave. NOT anymore.. I'm sure that they are fingerprinting and using my browsing habits and even search queries and shows relevant ads. It is not like they are showing some random pop up for ads. I get ads for NordVPN if I search for best vpn 2020. I instantly get pop up for lenovo laptops as soon as I search for laptop. Obviously, with all the utm source and other tracking stuff. I am making around 15 BAT/month. I don't need those pennies. Back to Firefox with Ublock Origin and Privacy Badger.
—Comment on a YouTube video of mine

This guy is literally talking as if how Brave works is some kind of mystery, as if its entire code base isn't openly auditable.No, Brave doesn't take or "fingerprint" your browsing habits, instead, if you are enrolled in Brave Rewards, you browser pulls the entire list of adds from the system, then locally decides on your own computer what ads to serve.

On Brave's FAQ:

Only the browser, after HTTPS terminates and secure pages are decrypted, has all of your private data needed to analyze user intent. Our auditable open source browser code protects this intent data on the client device. Our server side has no access to this data in the clear, nor does it have decryption keys. We do not run a MitM proxy or VPN service. We provide signals to the browser to help it make good decisions about what preferences and intent signals to expose to maximize user, publisher and advertiser value. Each ad request is anonymous, and exposes only a small subset of the user’s preferences and intent signals to prevent “fingerprinting” the user by a possibly unique set of tags.

Is Brave bad for privacy?

A popularly linked Neocities site Spyware Watchdog ranks Brave as having a rank of "High" spyware.The information on the site is generally good, but a little context-less:if you compare their Brave article to their articles on other browsers, this bad ranking for Brave is utterly out of place.

Many people who read things and lack basic critical thinking skills wanted me to either admit or refute this page.Again, the website's information is good, but there is that same implicitly more skeptical standard held to Brave than other browsers.

As a point of comparison, take the browser Pale Moon.On their site, the Spyware Watchdog classifies Pale Moon as being "Top Tier" in privacy, while Brave is "Low Tier."But if you look at their own analysis, on nearly every point, Brave is superior to Pale Moon.

Brave's Flaws Pale Moon's Flaws
Trackers Brave blocks ads and trackers, but whitelists Facebook and Twitter to not break cross-site logins for normies. Users can still choose to block these sites in the settings menu. Pale Moon does not block any ads or trackers at all, so tough luck. Go find an extension that works well with it.
Forced incompatibility None Pale Moon ships with a blocklist of add-ons that the developers don't want you installing. This includes NoScript and Ad Nauseam.
Auto-updates Brave checks for updates on startup. (I'm not sure if this is the case on Linux too). There is no menu option to disable this but you can block connections to the update site in your hosts file. Pale Moon automatically checks for updates, add-on updates and changes to the add-on blocklist on start-up. In the about:config some of these can be disabled.
Analytics on the Start Page Brave connects to a free/open source Piwik service to get the number of ads/trackers blocked for the startpage. This can be disabled on the start page. Pale Moon connects to Google analytics on the start page. This can be disabled by changing the start page.
Other bad connections If ads are enabled, Brave makes connection to a site to get ads. It also checks a HTTPS ruleset on an Amazon server. Pale Moon makes a OCSP request for every website you connect to to verify their SSL with a third party. This can be turned off in the options.

On pretty much all of these points, when Brave is lacking, Pale Moon is much worse (that isn't to say that Pale Moon is a bad browser either).So it doesn't really make sense to me why Brave, which also comes with additional privacy features like fingerprint-blocking, should be classified as lower than Pale Meme.That site also claims that Brave uses the Google search engine as default.If that was ever true, it isn't now, or at least not on any version of Brave I've used.Brave asks the user on the first start up which search engine he would like to use as default.Google is among the choices though.

Note that in their articles they admit that Pale Moon has "auto-updates," but complain that Brave has "shitty auto-updates."Okay.I wonder what the difference is aside from personal emotion.In the last paragraph or so, they do mention, if not skirt around all the actual features of Brave:

and the fingerprinting protection I don't think is found in any other browser (but I didn't confirm if it actually works).

It does (of course it's an arms-race). But this is an acknowledgment that Brave is fighting on a level that no other browser is.While other honorable browsers like Ice Cat are committed to free software, Brave is also committed to an internet free from ads enmeshed in web pages and the people who simp for them.

Brave for normies

Aside from nit-picking different browsers, if you want to install a browser on a computer for a normie relative or friend, there is no debate that Brave is the best.Again, Brave is built with ad and tracker blocking.Browsers like Pale Moon or Firefox are bad browsers that can become okay browsers after you manually disable their junk features and download a bunch of add-ons, but Brave comes as it should be.Even Brave's token feature of viewing ads to get paid is not on by default.As it ships, Brave is just a good browser.

This is why I have Brave ship with LARBS:it's a pain to hosts a repository and edit browser settings via dotfiles, while I can just have Brave installed and that gives a passable, ad-free experience for users.

So if you want to make a normie's life easier, install Brave.They will be able to do everything they could do on Chrome, but now they have decreased their Google liability and no longer have to put up with ads.

Grasping at Straws...

Chromium based

When you corner an anti-Brave aggitant, they usually mumble something about how Brave is bad because it's "Chromium-based."I've never seen people use this argument about, say, qutebrowser or other minor Chromium-based browsers, but I think it's just become "that reason" for Brave.I honestly, really can't get worked up against a free and open source software project just because it's been spearheaded by Google.The ability to fork it always remains if the code goes south or if it does degenerate stuff.

I think it's especially absurd to place your trust in Mozilla FurryFox and their team of stereotypical SJWs and soydevs as a functioning alternative.Remember Mozilla spends its money developing fun add-ons like this to "protect" people emotionally from scary "conspiracy theories" and "alt-right content" on YouTube.I consider Google just as insane and dangerous, but not necessarily so much more insane so that I for some reason trust the judgment of Mozilla developers over Google ones.

EDIT: Here's another one from Mozilla FurryFox: "We need more than deplatforming"Moreso than Google, Mozilla's openly stated goal is an internet totally controlled by stereotypical dyed-hair SJWs with bad physiognomy.

What I mean by this is, sure, I'd like some browser with an independent engine.Pale Moon does sort of has that.That's cool.But that is not enough to make a difference for actual usage.Again, look at the list of benefits of Brave at the top of this article, all of those are hard to replicate or find in other browsers.I could go into it elsewhere, but there are a million little reasons why I don't use Pale Moon (but you might like it).

Affiliate links

Twitter users/Redditors went apoplectic several months ago when they realized Brave had included affiliate links to some sites whose names are filled in in the url bar.I have already written on this.It's literally nothing.As I say there, this is what affiliate links are for.I've never heard the same crowd through a fit that DuckDuckGo does exactly the same thing.You could even actually see the Brave affiliate links fill in, which is not the case when clicking on a DuckDuckGo affiliate site link.Still took these guys months to even notice...This is only something "controversial" to people who are trying their damnedest to find something to not like about Brave.

Actual good complaints about Brave and BAT

Since most visceral anti-Brave agitators just have a kind of general ax to grind,I want to take this time to voice my actually annoyances with Brave and the BAT project.I consider all of these ultimata: I only use Brave with the expectation that these issues will be fixed in the future.

Get rid of Uphold!

Actually, let me say that in <h1>...

Get rid of Uphold!

So you can get BAT from viewing ads, and people with websites and YouTube channels can receive donations, great.The annoying thing however is that you can't just get payouts to a random Ethereum wallet, instead, you have to use the company Uphold.This is probably because of legal issues and because I'm sure they have some financial arrangement, but the BAT project cannot be considered to be a universal and private solution if users are funneled into some site that requires a real-world identity.

Legally or technologically difficult to do otherwise? Maybe.But that is one of the goals of cryptocurrencies anyway and it should be met.Build the technology so that it's impossible to legally constrain.Most blockchain technology is already like that.

Users should just be able to give a public Ethereum/Token address and receive BAT there.That should be it.If you want to offer a normie-friendly partner service like Uphold, fine, but that should not be either the default or required.Uphold, I should say, is definitely not normie-friendly anyway.Since they did a redesign late September/early Ocotober, I admit I literally cannot figure the site out and how to transfer my BAT out efficiently.

I should say, in development Brave has had some suboptimal or non-private features in the past before better solutions were devised.I mentioned the fact that Brave pulls a non-personalized ad list, but that wasn't always the case to my understanding:when Brave was starting out, the browser did request specific ads, giving the central service some information about user browsing habits.So that at least indicates that Brave is open to reevaluating methods that are exploitable.

Let me state it again though, if the BAT system requires Uphold for basic functionality, it is not a serious long-term service.That's it.I only use and recommend the BAT system under the expectation that this is a temporary situation that they are actively seeking to remedy.If anti-Brave shills want to shill about something that actually matters, this should be it!

Auto-updates and integrations

I agree strongly with the argument from the Spyware Watchdog site above that Brave should not make any unsolicited requests to sites, especially auto-updates, and if it has a reason to, it should have some menu option to disable it.Any connections a browser makes in the background for these purposes or for analytics should be disabled by default too.

The Browser should be neutral and decentralized.

Somewhat related to the above, if Brave is actually serious about becoming the commonly used system not just for browsing, but for internet monetization, it has to be as neutral and decentralized as possible.Brave has added a lot of optional features for different services and other little annoyances.Obviously, you can immediately disable them, but if you want to have a personalizable and universal browsing experience, Brave should be absolutely blank when you pull it up on a fresh install.

General little features


43/57 - Livestream on PeerTube ONLY at 10AM New York time

As the title says, I'll be livestreaming today on PeerTube only at this link.

I'll talk about finishing my book reptinting project that you're going to want to know about and perhaps "recent events" (several weeks late) for example, on Richard Stallman.

I'll read donations I get if you want to talk about other things.

If you haven't already, subscribe to my PeerTube's RSS feed to get updates about new releases: https://videos.lukesmith.xyz/feeds/videos.xml?accountId=3. I don't think it adds livestreams until after they're done, but I will get in the habit of releasing a notification on this blog/RSS feed in prep for new streams.


44/57 - Bringing back blog system.

For the benefit of RSS users, I'm going to bring back the blog feature on my website, which is done with lb, a minor script I wrote a while ago.

This is where I'll be posting updates. Old blog entries, while not on the RSS feed still exist via their permalinks and can be accessed from lukesmith.xyz/blog.


45/57 - YouTube Channel Deletion (updated)

For info, I've added a list of the striked videos so you can see how innocuous they are.


46/57 - YouTube Channel Deletion

YouTube Channel Deletion

by Luke Smith


Google is prepping to delete my YouTube channel. As of today (March 26, 2021), I now cannot post for another two weeks. YouTube "strikes" which are functionally unappealable (automatically rejected) last for 3 months. If they give thee concurrent strikes, you channel is permanently deleted.

If YouTube Jannies delete my YouTube channel, remember that 100% of my videos are still easily viewable, including new videos I will make. You have no excuse to whine if all you know how to do is consoooming product on YouTube's walled garden:

I can and have already done livestreams on PeerTube. Expect those as well. LBRY/Odysee will probably have livestreams too soon.

"When you're banned from YouTube will you keep making videos?"

Yes, at Odysee and PeerTube. I will also probably actually bring back Not Related! for real this time because the first reason I made a podcast was to communicate with people using less bandwidth.

I suppose my only regret is not shilling RSS, webrings and other classical internet technology to free us from social media companies.

The "importance" of YouTube

YouTube ad revenue by itself is a nice thing to have, but it is not a huge loss if I lose it (less than minimum wagies make). Very few megachannels actually make decent money on it and frankly, it's a kind of bloodmoney if you ask me.

The only concern for me is that YouTube is still the vehicle by which people find out about me and use other stuff I offer and that can mean other sources of income for me.

While I try to push people into a decentralized internet, use RSS feeds, superior platforms like Odysee and PeerTube, and encourage them to have websites and the like, most people still passively use YouTube recommendations and curation.

How you can help.

Encourage YouTube followers to follow me in proper places.

If you have friends who watch my YouTube channel or know of people on other sites who do, make sure they:

Google is not going to be accidentally recommending new people to me after they ban me. That's your job.

Donate

You can donate to me even without having extra money by using my affiliate links.

If you do have spare money:



47/57 - Emergency: re: YouTube

Hi everyone.

YouTube has given an arbitrary strike to one of my videos. I am temporarily blocked and banned from posting on YouTube for a week.

I mentioned in a stream that I was planning to wean myself off YouTube as a platform in 2021, but now I might have to move faster, only three strikes means a permanent channel deletion. Considering how inconsistent and ambiguous YouTube's pretended rules are, I expect to wake up every day with those final strikes.

Frankly, YouTube shouldn't be in my life at all and I intend to remove it.

Firstly, you're already subscribed to this RSS feed, but be sure to encourage your friends to subscribe as well. This is a way of communicating directly to people.

Secondly, make sure that you follow my videos on on Odysee and my own website's PeerTube instance.

Thirdly, I don't ask you to "support the channel" in every video, so I will now, but you have to actually do it: I now have new donate page running on free software and independent of PayPal, YouTube and Patreon. Donate whatever you can there. You can do monthly donations (which I recommend for stability) or one-time donations: I plan on using this for "superchats" in livestreams now. You can also donate cryptocurrencies as well.

Fourthly, you need to make yourself more independent of these sites, I've talked about this in other videos. I have a whole playlist of how to start your own website, server, email, search engine, and everything else.

Fifthly, and lastly, I think, I want to be able to easily stream from my whole to an RMTP server, so I can stream to PeerTube, Odysee and possibily YouTube all at once. If anyone knows a good application for that, please make me aware of it. As it is right now, I only have Streamlabs' app that only allows you to stream to YouTube, but I'd like to stream to my own RMTP server that streams to all of those sites at once. (I need to figure all this out, so suggestions are welcome.)

By the way, check out https://based.cooking which is coming along. Thanks to everyone who has submitted!


48/57 - https://Based.Cooking (non-bloated, non-soydev recipes and more)

Well, I figured that it'd be best and I go ahead and start a recipe site, since it came up. I'll go ahead and tell you RSS chads. It's based.cooking (yes, apparently .cooking is a TLD nowadays).

The site isn't much of a looker now. Just simple CSS, so feel free to open PRs with elegant improvements. I don't have much time today, so I'll leave it to other people. I might record a video on the site this evening or tomorrow.

While a lot of people have sent in their own sites with one or two recipes, I'd figure it'd be best to consolidate them and this is what this site is for. Open a PR on the Github repository or on Gitlab to add as many reciples as you'd like. You can give yourself credit at the bottom of the page with personal links. Follow the example.md page. If you want to add images, only add actual images you took yourself of the actual exact recipes.

Read the README for more info. Site is generated with ssg5. Recipe files are mere markdown pages. The main page is subject to change as new recipes fill up the front. Feel free to add minor improvements to recipes I or other people will have added, I wrote the existing stuff pretty hurriedly.


49/57 - Livestream momentarily

On YouTube at this link: https://youtu.be/uYDfdeySis0


50/57 - We Want Our 4 Causes Back!

We Want Our 4 Causes Back!

Aristotle, in his Physics argued that there are four causes behind everything that exists. These causes answer the question of "How" or "Why" something is the way it is.

The Material Cause
The material from which something is made. E.g. the stone of a statue.
The Efficient Cause
The external force that causes something to be made. E.g. the artisan and his tools who make a statue.
The Formal Cause
The form or plan of the thing made that define it. E.g. the artisan's written or thought blueprints or sketch of plans for how to make the statue.
The Final Cause
The goal and reason of the thing. E.g. the purpose for which the artisan is making the statue.

If the statue lacks any one of the four causes, it will not be made.

The Demise of the Formal and Final Causes

If you want to point your finger at a single philosophical change that defines the shift from the Aristotelean worldview of antiquity and the Middle Ages to the materialism of modernity, it is the rejection of the Formal and Final Causes in the early Enlightenment.

Just ask your modern brain: "Does everything really have a purpose?" You will probably reflexively think back "No," therefore, you do not believe in a Final Cause to everything. The same is true of the Formal Cause, both of them seeming to assume that there is a kind of conscious agency behind the action. That isn't strictly speaking how Aristotle intended them, but that's how they are interpreted through modern goggles.

You can see their rejection as early as the 1600's: Francis Bacon in Novum Organum pushed aside the Final Cause as only being only suitable for inter-human behavior. The Formal Cause, he dismissed merely as desperata "hopeless." He actually dismissed the vocabulary of the other two causes as being superficial and an irrelevant distinction too, but philosophically, they are still retained in his philosophy by other terms.

In any case, modern people do not believe in Final and Formal Causes, or if they do, not for everything in the cosmos. For Aquinas and others in the Aristotelean world, the question of whether the universe has a purpose or a formal plan is a kind of tautology. Of course it does! Everything non-random does in Aristotelianism.

The Final Cause in Nature?

Now our post-materialist view of the Final Cause is sort of different from Aristotle's original view. We have to remember that Aristotle viewed grammar and cognition as something that in some way was directly reflective of reality itself. Compare this view shared with the so-called "Speculative Grammarians" of the Middle Ages, "speculative" coming from the Latin word speculum "mirror", since grammar reflects reality. This common strand stretches from Aristotle to those influenced by his work like Priscian and Bacon (Roger (who was based), not Francis (who was p. cringe)).

Nowadays we atomize questions like "Why" to the point that even causality itself doesn't mean anything and is a mere human cognitive convention, but for Aristotle, the linguistic existence of "Why" questions means that there is a legitimate logical equivalent to "Why" in reality.

Aristotle originally had argued that it is appropriate to refer to the Final Cause of something whenever it is not due to randomness or sponteneity. The example he uses is the growth of human teeth: there is no variance in where the molar and incissors grow within the human mouth. Everything appears where it's "supposed to" and we can assume that there is some kind of Final Cause behind this.

If different shapes and sizes teeth grew in different locations of the mouth, then it would be appropriate to talk of them as lacking a Final Cause. Things that appear randomly and inconsistently do not necessarily have Final Causes, but if something happens invariably, we can trust that it has a Final Cause.

Darwin "Got It Wrong" too?

So how far are moderns willing to take the rejection of the Formal and Final Causes?

One of my old Ph.D. advisors, Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini wrote a book with Jerry Fodor called What Darwin Got Wrong. You can withhold your kneejerk reactions; it's not a creationist book or anything, but it almost ended up being as controversial—it's a critique of Darwinian natural selection on "philosophic" grounds.

I will stultify one of the main arguments for brevity's sake: "How can we reasonably talk about evolution as a goal oriented process when we have admitted already that speaking of Final Causes is illegitimate?" Massimo and Fodor do not use the Aristotilean terms, (instead they talk of Gould's spandrels) but that's what they mean.

Evolution would only have been "scientific" in Medieval Europe

Darwinian natural selection is actually a kind of cheat idea for materialism. In order to understand how humans have arisen from common descent with other animals, we want to have a narrative of why we speak, why we are bipedal, why our bodies are mostly hairless, etc. etc. Natural selection offers an answer without reference to a conscious incremental designer (God), but it smuggles back in the Final Cause: "This evolved to do that."

But if we actually limit ourself from talking in purpose-driven/Final-Cause statements, the most communicative "scientific" thing we can say is "Humans share a common ancestor with other animals, but we became different." The issue of "Why" is dreaded "metaphysics." In truth, we actually need a Final Cause to understand anything. The Final Cause, as Aristotle notes, is really the most important cause, because understanding it is key to understanding something in its greater context. Understanding something intuitively largely ammounts to knowing its Final Cause. Darwinism came to be accepted as a theory because it cleverly smuggled in illegal metaphysics that we were having withdrawal symptoms for. When you really think about it, this totally withdraws Darwinian selection from the ledger of supposedly scientific topics if you took such standards seriously (I don't).

The funny thing is that people can easily be made to become hyper-material anti-metaphysicians or lax on everything depending on circumstances. Fodor and Massimo partially wrote their book as a critic of "adaptationism" and evolutionary psychology, which were and still are bugaboos to the political left because they seek to explain minutiae of human social life, including hot-button issues like gender differences and race, in the light of Darwinian natural selection. Leftists like Gould and Lewontin would dismiss such explanations as "just-so stories," as would science-popularizers and the press, but Fodor and Massimo argue that this is an argument you cannot avoid generalizing once you make it. It applies to all of evolution: if it is philosophically illegitimate to talk about human sexual dimorphism because that reads a Final Causes into evolution, then it is equally illegitimate to talk about any other kind of change as being purpose driven by "selection."

This books was received with mostly hostile confusion by the mainstream press and I suspect most biologists which mostly missed the argument and were languishing in the culture wars of the Bush Years. Mind you, I don't agree with the book, but it's mostly because I don't care to endorse this kind of materialism, but most people do indeed at least claim to abide by it, so these arguments would be important to address for them.

Just a "linguistic" argument?

At the end of it, any evolutionary biologist will be tempted to throw up their hands and say "So what!" to that philosophical objection. After all, it sure feels like some kind of technicality or argument from the way we linguistically talk about evolution. And they're right! In truth, Darwinian evolution is a useful theory specifically because it is a method of giving us a Final Cause for gradual evolutionary changes. That's the whole point afterall. If it didn't give us a Final Cause, it wouldn't be an explanation. Striking the Formal Cause from scientific vocabulary is only a recipe for the typical postivistic science status quo of denying any "metaphysics" to your science while just tacitly assuming it all.

Return of the Formal Cause?

What about the Formal Cause? That is, what about the idea that everything must have a form/plan behind its creation? If we are willing to concede that a Final Cause can arrise from natural selection, what about a Formal Cause?

While I'm on Fodor and Massimo's book (who again, are not talking in Aristotelean terms themselves), they actually do end up resucitating the Formal Cause as well, albeit in a more purposeful way. While the book beats around the bush, I can say that in my conversations with Massimo at Arizona, he really does think of evolution as not being an issue of natural selection. Instead he (and Noam Chomsky as well) has the view that complex features in biology evolve from in-built genetic parameters whose complex interactions can also produce fully-formed design. This is the kernel of Minimalism in linguistics.

Now in presentations, Massimo always loves to talk about those species of jellyfish which with a single simple genetic change, develop highly complicated proto-eyes even without a direct need. One minor genetic development can produce structure as complicated as a primitive eye. This is not uncommon in biology because many complex structures are simple derivatives of simple principles. The general name for this is emergent properties and are said to be based on so-called Laws of Form.

Laws of Form are actually a big topic of conversation in linguistics nowadays, Chomsky's idea approaching the idea that one single and very simple cognitive change could be enough to produce the human language faculty. (This is totally contrary to the pop-idea of language abilities slowly arising from behavioristic cave-man grunting complexifying over centuries).

It should be obvious that Laws of Form, Fibonacci spirals, golden ratios, apparent ordering and other emergent properties arise naturally from the universe without the obvious need of conscious planning. This is not a rejection of the Formal Cause, but states the truth that it is universal. "Form" needn't just be a conscious plan like the sculptor's plan for a hunk of marble, but a form that emerges from natural principles.

Even a Materialistic Universe Generates Formal and Final Causes

In trying to escape the Formal and Final Causes, modern science has really made them more irreplaceable. Laws of Form emerge from very simple computational operations and define the formal structure of things that arise in nature. At the same time, any kind of selective pressure or survival mechanism like Darwinian selection will naturally produce structure arranged to a goal. Understanding anything is quite impossible without referring to its Formal and Final Causes.

For the Aristotelian up until Newton (the last of the magicians in J.M. Keynes' terms), this is us uncovering the Mind of God. While words like "God" make moderns queasy, it's legitimate to ask why the Formal and Final Causes as concepts should. Final Causes are by definition universal where unchecked spontaneity occurs. A conscious human mind is not a prerequisite for them, neither for Formal Causes.

You actually can keep even a very clumsily materialism while accepting these traditional notions. Indeed, to understand something's Final and Formal Causes is to truly understand it such that the Material and Efficient Causes seem like mere details.


51/57 - Wanna learn LaTeX?

Wanna learn LaTeX?

What is LaTeX?

Basically, it's how big boys write and format documents. Every public brief, scientific article, book, cryptocurrency whitepaper or even outline written by people who know what they're doing is written in LaTeX.

If you want to see examples of documents made with LaTeX, you can see my Master's thesis here or another paper here that shows some diagrams and other features you can have in LaTeX. Of course, LaTeX documents can be infinitely customized.

Writing

"Is it hard?"

No. It's sort of like learing vim. People complain about how hard it is until they take the bare minimum of time to learn it and realize how much more effective they are with it. The return on investment is massive. I wrote the thesis above in LaTeX in around a week of learning from the bare minimum.

"How is LaTeX different?"

LaTeX is a markup language, meaning that you write documents in whatever text editor of your choosing and instead of manually moving margins and placing things yourself, everything is optimally places when you compile the document into a .pdf.

Markup languages are great because they separate the task of writing from the task of formatting. It's somewhat similar to the difference between HTML (a markup language) and CSS (which does styling) and Javascript (which does scripting). LaTeX does the equivalent of all three, but it allows you to do them all separately so you can easily extend documents.

"Why is LaTeX better than Microsoft Word and friends?"

"But Word has some of those things!"

Niche features that basically no Word-user uses. Also they change with every new update. This is the primary operating structure of LaTeX.

Installing LaTeX

The core LaTeX package (texlive) is fairly small, but I highly recommend you download all the LaTeX packages out there at the beginning (a big download). This is nice because as you learn more things, you won't have to manually download new packages. You'll be able to experiment with new LaTeX abilities through new packages seamlessly. Here's how you get them:

Once you've downloaded and installed that, you have a fully-featured LaTeX engine on your machine! You can make lots of amazing things that you don't even fullt realize yet.

LaTeX Video Tutorials

Basics

First thing to learn is how to compile documents with pdflatex and the basic principles of the TeX lanugage. In this first video, I talk about how basic text, paragraphs, titles, headings and more work. This in itself is enough to make a professional write-up.

Click to Reveal Video.

Numbering and cross-referencing

As you make more complex documents, you'll want to automatically number and interrelate section, figure and other numbers together. LaTeX makes this super simple, and make it even easier to copy your file into a new file where it will automatically update all cross-referenced numbers.

Click to Reveal Video.

Bibliographies with Biber and BibLaTeX

Bibliography management is a huge plus in LaTeX through biber. I haven't written a bibliography in more than half a decade due to the fact that LaTeX only needs a bibliography file of metadata and autogenerates citations for any needed source.

Click to Reveal Video.

Images and Figures

TeX isn't all text either. You can insert and nicely format images in a way that they are optimally placed without too much human interference.

Click to Reveal Video.

Macros to make things easy

As you do more specific things, you might want to make your own macros and functions. This really makes things easier, and you can do very complex things very elegantly.

Click to Reveal Video.

Slide Presentations with Beamer

LaTeX isn't just for printable documents either. You can change your document into a Beamer presentation, allowing you to present it as a slide show similar to Microsoft PowerPoint's.

Click to Reveal Video.

Making a Professional Résumé

Here, I also give some extra pointers while I make a résumé.

Part 1

Click to Reveal Video.

Part 2

Click to Reveal Video.


52/57 - Veganism is the Pinnacle of Bugmanism

"Veganism is the Pinnacle of Bugmanism"


by Luke Smith

People have quoted me as saying that. I forget where it comes from, probably a livestream, but I definitely stand by it. Since a lot of people labor under the assumption that my channel is about "Linux," I've accumulated a lot of subscribers that are variously nerds, furries, degenerates, coomers, libertarians, communists, trannies and among them are vegans. Some of them (I assume) are good people.

There's a stereotype about vegans that they are annoying and can't talk about anything but Veganism. This hurtful stereotype comes from the fact that it's true.

Grill

Bugmanism

Firstly, what is Bugmanism? How do Vegans fit the bill?

Long story short, a bugman is someone who rejects the purpose and role of humans in their natural environment. They reject tradition, religion, their family, gender roles, the expectation that a person should contribute to their community, etc. They might do this for their personal convenience (usually they just wanna coom outside of marriage) or for apparently rational reasons, but the effect is the same.

If you want to sum up the esoterically evil goals of "modernism" or whatever you want to call it, it is destroying the countervailing power of tradition and in its place, new social engineers attempt to dictate human values top down. If you separate people from their families, their races, their traditions and who they actually are, you can engineer TV shows, sports teams, activist movements and a million other things for them to identify with and worship. Modernism pretends to liberate people from arbitrary traditions and authorities, when in reality is substitutes natural, emergent morals with controlled authorities.

Veganism has always been one of the most radical examples of this logic. Esoterically, Veganism forces one to abandon not just their own traditions, but every human dietary tradition and leaves them at the whims of processed grains and pharmaceutical supplements for a meager survival.

That is, Veganism is highly disruptive: You can't have a normal life. You can't have a normal meal. You can't wine and dine with people and must make it an affair. You can't use traditional hand-made leather products. You can't hunt or trap for food or raise animals, even for eggs.

You become a nag at war with your family, the world around you. You are trapped within urbanite bugman society: you can't even eat in most non-urban places or foreign countries because the insane concept of not cooking with animal fats and eating and using animal products just doesn't exist. You have to survive holding your breath from one hipster downtown area to the next.

On every point, you become more reliant on macro-society. Vegans try very hard to give off "organic" vibes, but it's just a lie. Even people on the internet who "advertise" their Vegan lifestyle spend hours processing a basic meal and of course predigesting indigestible plant matter with a blender. Try and find a non-urbanite Vegan in real life. They exist, but they are an aberration.

The LARP of "Vegan for Health"

Vegans sometimes pretend to advertise Veganism because it's allegedly healthy. This is just public relations; any true Vegan, when you really pin them down thinks that Veganism at its core is a moralistic belief. Vegans are Vegans because they believe that not being Vegan is morally deficient: killing/eating animals and using their bodies is bad. That's it.

So you have your moral principle and run with it. What magical force then is making that moral principle necessarily good for your health? If Veganism were actually a good diet for humans, that would actually be a massive coincidence. "Vegans for health" have to grapple with the bizarre claim that meat, exactly the food that has been viewed in all human cultures as superior and more desirable is somehow nutritionally deficient.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is Plant-based.

The weirdest thing is when Veganism is held in opposition to the Standard American Diet, as if the American diet somehow represents traditional or non-Vegan diets. The SAD is just Vegan-lite. SAD is a post-Vegan invention of the diet industry take over the past decades has been leading people into the most harmful parts of vegan diets: unstable plant-oils, processed grains as meat substitutes, etc.

The pop-cultural idea of "health" is simply "being skinny." Veganism is great at making people skinny because it is slow moving starvation (I have met some carbo-loading exceptions who fatten up).

Veganism is just to starvation what waterboarding is to drowning. If you stick with it, you will eventually die, but it's so painful in the meantime, you'll probably give up.

Veganism is rational.

Vegans are exceptionally "rational" in that they adopt the moral framework of modern society and follow it to its logical conclusion.

When you're given for your acceptance some inane religious platitudes like "equality" and "rights" along with vaguely Marxist notions of "exploitation" and "slavery" and "oppressed classes," it seems perfectly reasonable to expand that language to the relationship between predators (humans) and their prey (many animals) (or maybe pets too).

If you're raised in a time of extreme moral nihilism except for not liking the several historical events you're told that matter (usually slavery and the Holocaust), obviously you're going to glom on to what looks most like them: chickens in chains and sheep being led to slaughter like sheep to slaughter.

Honestly, Veganism by their own logic might not be far enough. There is some circumstantial research to the effect that plants have nervous systems that might feel pain as well: you could go one step further and simply eat nothing living. The Ctistae of ancient Thrace refused to eat anything alive, eating only by-products/foodstuffs like milk and honey. The Ctistae also refused to have sex, which might be something to consider since Vegans eventually lose sexual function anyway.

Veganism is rebellious.

Veganism has the same kind of "rebellion" that all other forms of leftism share. It "rebels" against the system by perfectly internalizing the system's values, extrapolating them to their logical conclusions and thus fighting the system when it fails to meet those obviously unworkable conclusions.

Corporations started shilling vegetable oils (which originally were and frankly still are just industrial by-products) as workable replacements for butter and lard. Seventh-Day Adventists lobbied for them because of their own religion beliefs. Jews lobbied for them because they hate unkosher lard. Years later, now we know that vegetable oils are highly unstable and have contributed to the massive rise in heart disease.

Veganism is a leftist phenomenon. The psychological type of a leftist is such that they will always subordinate their direct experience to ideology. It doesn't matter if not eating meat or wearing leather or using animal products sounds hard, their suffering is more proof of a greater moral superiority.

Non-leftists can simply not become Vegans for longer than extremely brief periods. Even if a Vegan wins an argument with them, a normal person is just going to say, "I'm sorry, I like animals and all, but I can't not eat them, that's just crazy."

Veganism only makes sense in a bugman environment.

Ask a vegan why he doesn't eat eggs. He will probably tell you a spooky story about how terrible it must be for a chicken to live in a coop laying eggs all day. That might even bring a tear to a sentimental persons eye.

Out where I live, people have their chickens wandering in their yards and garden pecking scraps. They return to their coops at night to be safe from coyotes. Is there really something "unethical" in the mind of a Vegan about picking up an unfertilized egg lain by one of these chickens and eating it?

A lot of the moral logic behind Veganism falls flat outside of bugman capitalism. Fundamentally, it's another manifestation of general angst from lack of connection to the real natural world.

I say this because most Vegans are Vegans because they are softies who have literally no connection to animals whatsoever until as a teenager they watched a PETA documentary with chickens getting their heads buzzed off or pigs walking around in their own poop.

Literally think about the animals. When wild animals die in nature, they don't slowly slip away in the night surrounded by their family. They die of starvation, or by being ripped apart alive by packs of coyotes. Would you rather die by getting your brains blown out instantaneously or die a "natural" death like this?

But to the original question, it really makes no sense even for a Vegan to not eat or distribute the eggs a chicken lays... You're going to have to get deep into Marxist analysis to think that's somehow unethical. And once a chicken has living a long life of egg laying, why not quickly and painlessly dislocate its neck and eat it for dinner? If you don't, your cat will eventually gore it and it'll be a mess.

Chicken food

Animals live to be eaten.

This isn't even a metaphysical claim. Domesticated cows and pigs and chickens do not and cannot live as they exist in the wild. They have evolved symbiotically with us as sources of food. They can go feral and breed with wild boar and the like, but their composition is based on their domesticated state.

Wild game like deer have lived alongside human hunters for centuries. Their breeding habits and evolutionary development is based in the fact that a sizeable portion of their population will be hunted by humans every season.

If you actually care about "the environment" (1) you would care for humans, whose natural diet is meat and (2) you would be terribly worried about the unintended consequences of severing one of the most important links in the food chain.

Dumb Vegan sayings

"You wouldn't kill it yourself!"

They say this whenever someone turns their eyes away from an animal being killed in one of their Vegan propaganda videos.

Guess what, I also might turn away if I see a video of a sanitation worker wading through human feces it in a sewer. That doesn't mean that I'm a hypocrite for taking dumps in a toilet connected to city sewage.

I turn away when I see depictions of amputations of gangrenous limbs in movies too. That doesn't mean I don't think it's not medically necessary.

Killing animals is actually a bad example of this because while all cultures are disgusted by feces and amputations, in most times and places (including this country before Bambi), killing animals was nothing any self-respecting grown man would react to. It goes without saying that there are many countries where people still recreationally torture dogs and cats.

I don't say that to say that I'd be okay with killing dogs and cats, merely that the trained moral responses we have for them are very localized and subjective in our own modernist viewpoint. But Millenials have now been raised in a Disney fantasy-land where animals think and talk like us and therefore must share the same feelings. Vegans absurdly "imagine what it'd be like" to live in industrial farming as if a chicken's birdbrain is having an existential crisis while living in a cage.

"Veganism is minimal or more self-sufficient."

Vegans have been fruitlessly trying to meme this one on me for forever. Starvation and death is minimal, I suppose, so it is at least true in that sense. Veganism is ultimately the diet of only eating inedible garnish that looks "good" on Instagram.

Raising most animals is easier and more efficient than raising vegetables. If it's too hot, potatoes don't naturally know to go move to the shade. Yams don't eat your overgrown grass. Onions don't poop out fertilizer. Tomatoes can't pull a simple tractor. You can't skin dead okra and make leather out of it. You can't grind up old mustard to make bonemeal (that's not just something in Minecraft, by the way).

Animals are an absolutely necessary portion of any homestead in life and death. Listen, I like growing stuff. I like growing vegetables. But vegetables are just not real food... They are garnish. They are sides. They are only enjoyable insofar as they elevate your enjoyment of real food: meat.

"Veganism is more efficient or environmental."

People say that eating plants is more "efficient" because they saw an energy pyramid diagram as a kid, which shows how many prey animals are needed to maintain carnivorous animals. If we actually lived in a place where there was a calorie shortage, like a desert planet where greens couldn't grow, that might be an issue. It frankly just isn't here. We're not exactly running out of grass to feed cows. Most people are mowing their grass and throwing it away.

There are people who make really absurd environmentalist arguments against meat as well, for example, methane from cows warms the globe. Okay. Fine. So what does Veganism do about that? Are Vegans going to kill the cows for us? Should we just let them starve in the woods since we can't harvest them for meat or even milk? What about all the game we won't be hunting? Those 50% of deer annually that we won't be killing—won't they me causing pollution with the huge amount of calories they need to frolic in the woods all days? Same will all other game. Most of those arguments are cute just-so stories and they fall apart after examination. Anyone can play that game.

Let's just laugh at this for a minute...

Alright class, look at this commonly posted vegan meme and tell me why it's retarded:

Vegan protein

"Per 100 calories" shows a deception so insane you should laugh. Whoever made this image wants you to believe that the piece of steak on the fork is equivalent to the tiny broccoli head on the right.

You can compare the nutrition of both broccoli and beef at those links yourself.

In order to get the protein in a single large bite of steak, you'll have to eat more than half a pound of broccoli. Good luck. Now you know why those poor impressionable girls who go vegan bloat up. And that's only 100 calories. 2000 calorie diet? Have fun. If you're famished, it's pretty easy to eat a big steak with 2000 calories (around a pound and a half of matter) and it will fill you up without any bloating or stomach pains. You'd have to eat twelve pounds more or less of broccoli or equivalent greens for that. And with all that fiber, you're going to just be pooping it all out.

Honestly, the human disgust response will stop you way before that. It's easy to eat a juicy steak without or without sauce, salt and pepper, but you'd nearly have to put a gun to someone's head to make them eat their daily 13 pounds of indigestible garnish.

Noootruits don't actually matter anyway

"Plants don't have over fifteen micro-nooootrients..."
sv3rige, at the end of every video

A lot of Vegan autism gets focused on replicating the consumption of known nutrients and minerals using only plants. The image above, in addition to being deceptive is based on a flawed idea that human nutruition is about consuming particular amounts of particular substances as if we are a perfectly predictable machine or a videogame. This isn't just a Vegan problem, basically everyone implicitly has this idea.

The reality is that those nutrients on the Nutrition Facts are a narrow realm of what might actually be relevant for the complex organ of our bodies. Additionally, there are many types of proteins and vitamins and minerals that the back-of-the-box doesn't account for. The Vegan game of saying, "we can get that too" is utterly pointless when you realize we have nowhere close to a full idea of how the human body works, only some plausible theories about the relationships between certain nutrients and what they seem to do. As in the case of some nutrients, like the falsely-maligned cholesterol is a good example of something two generations of people were told to fear and reduce only for us to later realize that our ideas about how it interacted in the body were arguably literally backwards.



53/57 - Wallpaper gray on LARBS?

If after a recent update, xwallpaper isn't setting your wallpaper on boot in LARBS, it's because xwallpaper is giving an error with the recent version of glibc.

There's already an issue up about this on the xwallpaper Github and hopefully it will be fixed soon. Out of my control.

You can spend a little time learning alternate ways to set wallpapers in the meantime, or learn to love gray.


54/57 - Why it's bad to have a high GDP

Why it's bad to have a high GDP

by Luke Smith, originally a blog post in November 2018, rewritten for this website.

To put it in other words...

The common way of looking at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is that it's a metric of economic success: more GDP is more wealth. Wealth is good. "Poverty" (meaning low per capita GDP) is bad. Nowadays, pretty much everyone talks about "economics" like this as if this truism was scribbled on the back walls of the cosmos.

This is just looking at one side of the ledger in a kind of global double-entry accounting book. A logically equivalent way of looking at it is that GDP is a metric of economic exchange required for survival in society as it exists. You can say that some area "produced" $1 billion of output (sounds good), but you can just as easily say that $1 billion was required for that area to sustain itself (sounds bad). These two are simply logically equivalent.

Living on $1 a day

Hyperborea
Antediluvian Hyperborea. GDP: $0 per year.

Let's dive into the Gestalt: when you hear that a family of eight lives on less than a dollar per day (PPP adjusted), you might wonder how they manage! To actually do such a thing would require buying large bags of rice for the whole family, eat only that and live in free cardboard boxes.

The reality is that that often uttered phrase means that they use less than $1 a day in the general economy, while the rest of their livelihood is "off-the-grid" or self-sufficient. They may grow food in a family farm, hunt for food, and most of their daily needs from cooking oils, to plates, to pottery, to soap are often made at home as well.

There is still "an economy" but often one that is barter based or socialist in the real pre-socialist sense of the word: mediated by direct face-to-face social tit-for-tat between neighbors and friends, none of this mediated by currency being exchanged, thus it is not part of the GDP.

If you read about some Bangladeshi village where the only product is "textiles", that doesn't mean that everyone there makes textiles all day and, without a textile company, everyone would've starved to death. It means that the only on-paper, measurable global industry practiced there is textile manufacturing. Other villagers might farm, hunt, even do some kind of gathering in some places. They will produce the arts and crafts and live the way people live when you leave them alone. If your view of the world is mediated by GDP, you're only seeing the extremely small sliver that pops into existence when people exchange something involving legal tender.

This is extremely difficult for us modern bugpeople to understand because to be a bugman in a large city is to produce absolutely nothing on one's own and buy literally everything you need from the store. To us non-productive people, GDP means income which means survival. But the further out of Bugmanville you go, the clearer the vacuousness of GDP becomes. When you realize that most of human wealth is unmeasured by GDP, you realize that Whig History and Steven Pinkerism is based on shaky foundations.

Example

A minor example. We had a large Thanksgiving feast near my uncle's house in very rural Florida. As it got cold in the night, we had a fire in a repurposed old sugar cane cooking vat artfully standing on used symmetrical cinderblock pieces. A bugman hipster might pay two hundred dollars or more for a similar looking "authentic" piece of equipment. Those $200 would be counted in the GDP. A bugman hipster might have also bought or rented chairs for the event, "contributing" more to the GDP, but my uncle, as part of the local wholesome church community, simply borrowed some from the church. Thus our event produced basically no GDP output in goods or services, despite being functionally equivalent to some similar but expensive and ergo "productive" "Friendsgiving" practiced by urbanites. In reality we are richer than the bugmen hipsters who blew hundreds of dollars on a faux-folksy party. In this case, we owned the firepit and had easy access and permission to the chairs, thus we are more economically flexible than they are. That GDP that they produced/expended is evidence of deeper reliance on the economic system. That GDP output is a marker of fragility, reliance on the conditions of the outside economy in the same way that a village of Bangladeshis who abandon their traditional way of lives to work on textiles are more fragile, despite being able to save up for iPhones.

What GDP really measures

Most of the increase in GDP across the world is simply the movement from local partially-social partially-under-the-table economies to economies mediated by taxable currency. An economically self-sufficient village with close social relationships and a barter economy has 0 GDP. A township of entrepreneurs and artisans you partially barter and partially use currency which they don't report has 0 GDP. All of these people are "in poverty" and "earn less than a dollar a day". And if you want to be truly self-sufficient, that means having a personal GDP of zero.

More than that, pretty much everywhere, GDP is a strong indicator of social upheaval. If you think that GDP is some eternal goodness, remember that everything "good" about industrialization shows up in the GDP, while at the same time, everything bad about it will not show up. Or, sometimes bad things are registered as positive economic growth: urbanization has caused mass-disease, and if that means a market for new medical services and pharmaceuticals, great! The GDP just went up! The Ganges is polluted due to the textile plant? That just means more opportunities for local entrepreneurs to sell bottled water! The GDP just went up! Are people being pushed out of fishing or other subsistence occupations because of it? Even better! Now they have no choice but to contribute to the GDP! With every passing year, in fact, more and more of the GDP is produced by dealing with the problems that our higher level of GDP have caused.

At the end of the day, GDP is only a measurement of how reliant a place or country is on the global economy. Self-sufficiency has a GDP of 0. Wasteful consooomerism has an extremely large GDP.

Planned obsolescence

I have one of my great grandfather's early electric circular saws. It has a bunch of gunk in it, but it still works (although I recently took it apart to replace some old screws and springs and other little parts to be careful). They literally do not make circular saws like it; it's all metal, while even the fancy modern stuff is mostly plastic.

The "unfortunate" thing about it and other durable tools is that it's "bad for the economy," especially the GDP. Since that thing has been around since maybe the 50's or 60's, that's as long as 70 years the economy has gone without the "stimulation" of us having to buy another saw.

Viewers of my technology videos: Which would be better for the world, if everyone used the material equivalent of a classic American-made IBM ThinkPad, or some Apple Laptops that are unfixable computers made of mostly batteries designed to conk out right before the new version comes out? Regardless, the Apple Macs that cost thousands a piece are much better for the "economy."

That's what I mean. If you have quality tools and do not need to constantly throw money at the system to buy things, fix things and otherwise waste money, you are going to be having a lower GDP. That's just how it is.

The propagandistic role of GDP

When you don't think things through like this, GDP is supposed to appear as an objective measure of economic goodness. You're supposed to be looking at those GDP charts and saying, "Wow, my life might be terrible, I am not free, I am subject to forces out of my control, and I and told I have to participate in mass-consumerism to survive, but these charts are the facts[!], and the facts say that things are better now, so I believe them!"

It's legitimately surprising to me how big of a boon the idea of increasing GDP is for Whig history and NPCs of many different ideologies. People of the Left and Right will matter-of-factly tell me that a plastic based economy taking over the world is still good because the line is going up. I've heard it as a justification for everything:

Don't like globalization?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't trust state-funded institutionalized science?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want child drag queens?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want everything to be made of plastics and other petrochemicals?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want mass pornography?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want free sugary drinks since infancy?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.

When you abandon the illusion of GDP, you are suddenly able to ask whether massive technological "progress" has actually been good for real human life and human pychology.



55/57 - PeerTube v3 is now live with Live Streaming abilities

PeerTube has recently released version 3.0.0, which has added many things, including the ability to livestream. I've already updated by PeerTube instance to version 3 (it is linked from this RSS entry), but the link is just videos.lukesmith.xyz .

I'm not sure if I'll end up immediately using the livestream ability, but it is certainly nice to have a non-YouTube option which is, in fact, self-hosted.

Aside from that, I strong recommend you add my PeerTube instance to your RSS feed. Get the link here: https://videos.lukesmith.xyz/feeds/videos.xml?accountId=3 . This is what I view as my permanent and primary non-YouTube video store, and I occasionally post things not on YouTube here. In the future, I plan on using it and my main website to make an "interactive" archive of video/text as an independent and self-sustained site.


56/57 - Short Notice: Appearing on Millenniyule TONIGHT at 7PM New York Time

Sorry for the short notice, I've been busy for the holidays, but I've been asked to be interviewed on Millenniyule in less than two hours from when I'm posting this. I'm scheduled for 7PM to as late as 9PM New York time.

The livestream will be on this channel (i.e. not my own due to bandwidth issues).

If you miss it, you can get it at the bottom of this playlist when it's over.


57/57 - New website

Got a new simplified website. Real old school, no CSS sheet. I'm going to make it more text-based and have more writings.

I've also rolled over this RSS feed.

A lot of the site is still unfinished, so notify my of anything I've missed so far. I want to keep old links more or less in place. I haven't decided if I want to keep using my old blog script (this entry is RSS only). I feel like I had neglected the blog for a while, and my new site is more conducive to browsing as I add even more.


News

Hacker News

Items count = 30

1/30 - Bitwarden – The Most Trusted Open Source Password Manager for Business

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2/30 - Gorillas: Special offer – unicorn slices, 150g (2021)

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3/30 - Do svidaniya, Igor, and thank you for Nginx

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4/30 - An open letter on E.O. Wilson's legacy

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5/30 - Add 10 GbE to your system with an M.2 2280 module

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6/30 - OpenGOAL: Port of Jak and Daxter, written in GOAL, a custom Lisp by Naughty Dog

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7/30 - The story behind OS X’s Unix compliant certification

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8/30 - Opensubtitles.org breached – Email addresses, IP addresses, Passwords, Usernames

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9/30 - Pijul 1.0 Beta

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10/30 - GPS

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11/30 - BCHS: OpenBSD, C, httpd and SQLite web stack

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12/30 - When tracking your period lets companies track you

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13/30 - Direct conversion of CO2 to solid carbon by Gallium-based liquid metals

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14/30 - I Spent Hundreds of Hours Working in VR

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15/30 - Mid air collision of two aircrafts taking off simultaneously averted in India

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16/30 - Myths about Social Media

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17/30 - Dinosaur food: 100M year old foods we still eat today

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18/30 - Craig Wright suing developers to forcibly give him access to internet coins

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19/30 - How the Native American population changed since the last census

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20/30 - How to Prevent the Next Heartbleed

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21/30 - Locked out of 'God Mode', runners are hacking their treadmills

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22/30 - NASA: Tonga blast was 10 megatons, more powerful than a nuclear bomb

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23/30 - Automation is reaching more companies

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24/30 - How to put bad habits to good use

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25/30 - Israel police uses NSO’s Pegasus to spy on citizens

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26/30 - Dude, is my code constant time? (2016)

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27/30 - Ask HN: Work Gamification

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28/30 - Letter from Union Pacific to LA District Attorney re: train thefts, safety [pdf]

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29/30 - Eyeo wins German copyright decision, sets legal precedent for who ‘owns’ HTML

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30/30 - CyberChef – The Cyber Swiss Army Knife

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