Sun 04 Dec 2022 06:45:01 AM EST

News

LaPresse.ca - Actualités

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1/10 - Et si votre bracelet vous sauvait la vie ?

De plus en plus de gens comptent leurs pas quotidiens grâce à des appareils comme la Fitbit ou l’Apple Watch. Des chercheurs veulent s’en servir pour détecter de façon précoce des maladies comme des cardiopathies, l’apnée du sommeil ou le parkinson. Et aux États-Unis, des assureurs remboursent les clients qui en achètent. La RAMQ emboîtera-t-elle le pas ?


2/10 - Le cochon géant dans le ciel

Aux balbutiements de l’internet grand public, je vous parle de 1996-1997, un site du world wide web annonçait une grande découverte : l’album Dark Side of the Moon de Pink Floyd était synchronisé avec le film Le magicien d’Oz, lui servait de trame sonore, en quelque sorte…


3/10 - Gaz à effet de serre | Des fermes en mission

Les producteurs laitiers du Canada veulent atteindre la carboneutralité d’ici 2050. Mais avant de s’attaquer à un enjeu, mieux vaut le comprendre. Douze fermes laitières québécoises viennent de se plier à un exercice inédit : calculer l’empreinte carbone de leur exploitation agricole.


4/10 - Lâcher l’école à 14 ans

Ils ont 14 ans, parfois 13. Et ils ne vont plus à l’école. Depuis la pandémie, les jeunes décrocheurs qui fréquentent l’organisme La Maison de Jonathan, à Longueuil, sont de plus en plus… jeunes. La Presse est allée à leur rencontre.


5/10 - Alors que le monde brûle

Comment étudier tranquillement alors que le monde s’écroule sous nos yeux ?


6/10 - Espèces menacées | Des sons appelés à disparaître

Le déclin de la biodiversité s’observe partout sur la planète. Le Québec n’est pas à l’abri de cette crise mondiale, qui touche de nombreuses espèces présentes chez nous. Plusieurs sont associées à des sons qui pourraient disparaître. À l’approche de la COP15 sur la biodiversité qui commence le mercredi 7 décembre à Montréal, voici huit espèces dont l’avenir est incertain.


7/10 - Ancien employé d'Hydro-Québec | Il ne faut pas politiser les accusations criminelles, dit le consulat de Chine

Dans la foulée de l’arrestation d’un ressortissant chinois accusé d’espionnage économique chez Hydro-Québec, le consulat général de Chine à Montréal souhaite que les cas du genre qui se retrouvent devant les tribunaux « ne soient pas politisés ».


8/10 - Les visages de l’épidémie invisible | Jonathan Phoenix Boulard

Les drogues contaminées et les médicaments contrefaits frappent des Québécois de tous les âges, de toutes les régions et de tous les milieux. Certains y survivent. D’autres y laissent leur peau.


9/10 - Collision avec une voiture | Une octogénaire perd la vie à Laval

Une piétonne âgée de 85 ans a succombé après avoir été frappée de plein fouet par une automobiliste aussi octogénaire à Laval, samedi en fin de journée.


10/10 - Vents violents | Des milliers de Québécois sans électricité

Balayées par des vents violents, plusieurs régions du Québec font face à des pannes d’électricité. En fin de soirée, plus de 50 000 Québécois sont toujours dans le noir.


News

CBC | Top Stories News

Items count = 20

1/20 - What is COP15? Why it matters and what's at stake at the Montreal summit

Woodland caribou


2/20 - Why better tips could mean faster delivery when ordering from apps

Uber Eats on bikes

Tips, which apps like SkipTheDishes, UberEats and DoorDash prompt customers to add before their order even arrives, make up a big part of couriers' fares — and they're assessing whether your order is worth the trip.


3/20 - Despite the protests, celebrities have their reasons for appearing at the World Cup

SOCCER-WORLDCUP-ENG-IRN/REPORT

Some celebrities have boycotted the World Cup because of Qatar's poor human rights record. But even more agreed to appear — possibly because of indifference to the controversy, or because of a generous paycheque, or because they see an opportunity to make a difference.


4/20 - Changes coming to Alberta's proposed Sovereignty Act after concerns over powers given to cabinet

Danielle Smith Sovereignty Act


5/20 - Calgary pediatric hospice discharging all respite patients, redeploying staff to children's hospital

Alberta Children's Hospital, Calgary - Drone shots


6/20 - 'We need her body': Grandmother of homicide victim urges police to search Winnipeg landfill for remains

Donna Bartlett


7/20 - I never thought I'd be the parent who sends my kid to private school

Shauna MacKinnon and children

Sending her daughter to private school made Shauna MacKinnon realize public education needs more investment to support students of all learning abilities.


8/20 - Arkells, late CBC journalist Barbara Frum among 2022 inductees to Canada's Walk of Fame

Arkells

Canadian band Arkells and late CBC journalist Barbara Frum are among this year's inductees to Canada's Walk of Fame.


9/20 - Meet the man who built the perfect fire — so you can stream it on your TV

fireplace for your home

The creator behind Fireplace For Your Home on Netflix lives in Washington state, and says he learned how to build what he considers the perfect fire while growing up in the Pacific Northwest. 


10/20 - Iranian dissident rapper reportedly remains defiant under torture by regime

salehi

According to a source close to the Iranian rapper, Toomaj Salehi has reportedly been subjected to severe torture in prison after being abducted by regime forces over a month ago.


11/20 - This Deer Lake, N.L., woman's savings vanished, leaving her with only unanswered questions

Bernetta Serrick

$20,000 went missing from Bernetta Serrick's savings account, and there's no sign of it coming back. She blames scammers, but doesn't know how they got access to her account.


12/20 - Argentina beats Australia at men's World Cup, will face Netherlands in quarter-finals after win over U.S.

messi-alvarez-221203-1180

Lionel Messi marked his 1,000th professional game with his first goal in the knockout stage of a World Cup, leading Argentina into the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over Australia on Saturday in Al Rayyan, Qatar.


13/20 - Repatriated 200-year-old Indigenous headdress to go on display in northern B.C. museum

petra 1

The return of a 200-year-old Susk'uz headdress that had been on display at the Royal Ontario Museum for about 140 years will be celebrated in a repatriation ceremony in Northern B.C. on Saturday.


14/20 - China eases 'zero-COVID' rules following protests — but Xi may have painted himself into a corner

Virus Outbreak China Protest

China is easing draconian COVID-19 restrictions in a patchwork manner. But for reasons both medical and political, it will be hard to really end the 'zero-COVID' policy — even as the Chinese people give every sign their patience is at a breaking point.


15/20 - These mobile crisis workers are on a mission: offer an alternative to police-led mental health calls

TAIBU 01

White Coat, Black Art checks in with one of Toronto's new mobile crisis response teams, which they argue is a safer and more effective way to provide health care to people in the community experiencing mental health crises.


16/20 - Got a cold? It could protect you from other viruses — but only for a bit

Woman with cold symptoms

Infectious diseases experts say having one virus like a common cold could keep others at bay, as each bug effectively takes turns over the fall and winter.


17/20 - Russia rejects price cap on its oil of $60 US a barrel, again warns of cutoffs

RUSSIA-OIL/IRKUTSKOILCOMPANY

Russian authorities rejected a price cap on the country's oil set by Ukraine's Western supporters and threatened Saturday to stop supplying the nations that endorsed it.


18/20 - Some CDI College recruiters are misleading students, Marketplace investigation finds

CDI College


19/20 - Sweden says it's set to hit NATO's defence spending target — unlike Canada

Sweden NATO

Within two years, Sweden — the formerly neutral Nordic country that's soon to join NATO — will meet the Western military alliance's often-debated defence spending target of two per cent of gross domestic product.


20/20 - Alexa, is the voice-assistant industry doomed?

Alexa Kids Privacy

A recent report indicating that Amazon's Alexa division is on track to lose $10 billion US this year is raising questions about the future of the entire voice-assistant industry.


News

Lifehacker

Items count = 51

1/51 - Yes, You Need to Clean Your Artificial Christmas Tree

What artificial Christmas trees lack in fresh evergreen scent, they make up for with ease of maintenance. Unlike the live versions, faux firs don’t shed, or need to be watered, then disposed of at the end of the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean that they’re completely maintenance-free.

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2/51 - The Best Ways to Fix a Leaky Air Mattress Without a Patch Kit

‘Tis the season for holiday houseguests and air mattresses. And chances are, you’ve either heard or said, “Don’t worry—we have an air mattress!” only to find out that it leaks. This discovery usually takes place late into the first night of the visit when everyone is exhausted, and just wants to go to bed.

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3/51 - 9 of the Best Gifts for the Soccer Player on Your List

If you’re hoping to find something for your little kid’s recreational kick about, you’re probably not going to find that gift idea on this list. These ideas are for the more serious soccer player who wants to improve performance, take advantage of the best gear, and, of course, have some fun. I can vouch for each of…

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4/51 - The 7 Deadly Sins of Holiday Gift-Giving

It’s the beginning of December, and if you’re a thoughtful, prepared, caring person, congratulations: It’s your time to shine, buddy. But if you’re more like me—a selfish, very-last-minute, “gotta get moms something” type—gift-giving season can be trying, stressful and cause extreme agita. But this year, let’s you and…

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5/51 - 17 of the Best Gifts for Gamers That Cost Under $50

Gamers have expensive taste. It might not be in your holiday budget to gift your gamer a $400 PS5, or a $1,600 GPU, but you still want to get them something they’re interested in. Luckily, there are plenty of great gaming gifts out there under $50, ranging from products they can use while gaming, to fun gaming-related…

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6/51 - How to Sharpen a Knife With a Whet Stone

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7/51 - 16 of the Best Gifts for the Fitness Fanatic's Gym Bag

If you’re buying gifts for somebody who’s into working out, they’d probably love a big-ticket item like a Peloton or squat rack. But what if your budget is smaller, and you just want to help them stock their gym bag with helpful, smaller items? Here are the best fitness accessories that they’ll actually use.

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8/51 - This Tuna Mayo Rice Bowl Is the Best WFH Lunch

I’ve been working from home for something like eight years and I’m somehow still awful at making myself lunch. I sucked at it before COVID and I’m even worse at it now; if I don’t have leftovers in the fridge, my chances of eating a complete, nutritious midday meal decrease to approximately zero.

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9/51 - 7 of the Best White Elephant Gifts for Less Than $30

The main challenge of White Elephant is to gift something with universal appeal, considering the nature of the game is that you don’t know who the gift recipient will be. And personally, when it comes to these kinds of organized gift exchanges, the spirit of giving rarely compels me to go beyond 20 or 30…

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10/51 - Why a Tiny House Might Not Be As Affordable As You Think

Tiny houses—typically defined as any primary dwelling under 500 square feet in size (the average tiny house is about 225 square feet)—have been a thing for a while now. There are even entire TV reality shows dedicated to folks searching for, building, and buying tiny houses. The concept is often sold on two basic…

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11/51 - 11 Hit TV Series No One Saw Coming

People like Wednesday, it seems. The series, from Smallville masterminds Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (with a bit of help from executive producer Tim Burton, who directs several episodes) has been a massive, record-breaking hit for Netflix. No joke: Stranger Things 4 once held the crown for first-week hours viewed with…

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12/51 - All the Social Media ‘Algospeak’ You Don’t Understand

If you’ve ever watched videos on social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook Reels, or Twitch (so, basically, everyone), you may have noticed a slew of coded words and emojis that weren’t immediately decipherable—but whose meaning you could infer alongside the right context clues.

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13/51 - Android’s ‘Find My’ Alternative Might Be Better Than Apple’s

For those of us with iPhones, sharing our location with friends and family is simple. The Find My app (formally Find My Friends) is your one-stop shop for tracking the contacts, devices, and items in your life. But on Android, there’s not an obvious equivalent. You won’t find a “Share Location” option when texting…

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14/51 - 10 Bingeable Shows That Are the Best Kind of Podcast Junk Food

There are plenty of podcasts out there that will set your brain on fire, catch you up on news, draw you into a mystery, or teach you to manage your money. But sometimes you need the opposite: something to help you tune in, zone out, and escape the stress of your day.

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15/51 - Beware of Holiday Shipping Notification Scams

It’s no secret scammers get more skilled and ingenious with time. Part of their strategy is knowing when is the best time to target certain people. As the holidays approach and people are expecting packages from Black Friday shopping or early Christmas gifts to arrive, scammers are taking advantage of the time to…

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16/51 - A Water Spill Can Break Your Audi

Audi drivers can worry about a simple spill causing their car to lose power, according to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) report. Audi has issued a recall that affects over 50,000 vehicles, and there have been 46 reports in the US of sedans and wagons losing power. No official…

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17/51 - The Right Way to Hone a Knife

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18/51 - 15 of the Best Luxury Gifts for Gamers

Buying holiday gifts for gamers can be difficult if you’re not into video games yourself. But consider the fact that gaming can be an expensive hobby: Chances are good there are new hardware and accessories the average PC and console gamer can’t normally afford. So if cost isn’t a concern for you, those high-priced…

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19/51 - How to Avoid Paying the 'Single Tax'

Whether you love the single life or can’t wait to be coupled up, one thing is sure: It’s expensive to be single. We’ve previously covered personal finance tips to take advantage of while you’re single, but the costs of being alone are rarely a result of personal failure. Instead, our economy privileges…

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20/51 - Do This Now to Get a Head Start on Your Holiday Baking

For the average cookie-eating month, it’s perfectly sensible to keep a few pre-scooped cookies in the freezer for when you want a quick, freshly baked chocolate chipper. But December is no average cookie month. With a lot of cookies on the list and a short window for shipping, you’ll need a strategy. To give yourself…

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21/51 - 9 of the Best New Things to Stream in December 2022

Rejoice, my fellow Grinches: This curated list of December streaming options is (nearly) Santa-free. Although it’s a rather lean month as far as each streaming service’s releases go, there are still plenty of new movies and shows sure to appeal to a broad swatch of your extended family members this holiday season.

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22/51 - The Best Ways to Respond to Unfair Feedback at Work

Early in my career I had an interaction with a boss I now regret. She began by saying, “I want to give you some feedback on your work.” With a list in front of her, she began to describe all the things she felt I had been doing poorly. She made little eye contact and had a deadpan tone. As she spoke, my heart pounded,…

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23/51 - Your iPhone Might Call the Police on You for Skiing

Your iPhone and Apple Watch want to keep you safe, but sometimes, they’re a bit overzealous about it. In an effort to save your life in the event of a car crash, they’ll reach out to emergency services on your behalf and let them know what’s going on. Only occasionally, they’ll mistake innocuous activities for…

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24/51 - Six Ways to Use Swiffers Around the House (Besides Swiffering)

Swiffers are kind of weird. They are pretty expensive to begin with, not to mention that you have to keep buying pads and refill liquid for them—and a good old-fashioned mop is cheaper and accomplishes the same goal. There are some unusual uses for Swiffers that a mop can’t replicate, though; so if you’ve already got…

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25/51 - What to Gift Someone You Don't Like, According to Reddit

The subreddit r/GiftIdeas is a gold mine not just for gift ideas, but also for drama. There’s the mother-in-law who rejects every gift, but also rejects the idea of not giving gifts. The “somewhat unpleasant” brother-in-law. The posts that start with “unfortunately, I must still get this asshole a gift.” If you, too,…

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26/51 - Where to Get Free Cookies This Weekend for National Cookie Day

We can thank Sesame Street. In 1976, they came up with “Free Cookie Day,” which would later be picked up on by the Blue Chip Cookie Company and gain some traction. This Sunday, Dec 4, is National Cookie Day. But you can get free cookies even sooner at some places. Here’s where you can get free or discounted cookies…

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27/51 - Keep Your Christmas Tree Away From Windows, and Other Ways to Avoid a Holiday Break-In

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas tried to warn us. Home Alone did too. Although winter isn’t peak season for burglaries, it offers would-be breakers and enterers some unique opportunities to scheme. After all, there’s no better time than the frigid months for people to leave their homes for a vacation…

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28/51 - You Can Power Your House With Wind, but Should You?

Seems like everything is more expensive these days, and one of the most worrying bills hitting your bank account is for home energy use. From gas to electricity, the cost of keeping our lives lit up, warm, and connected isn’t going to get lower any time soon, so it’s little wonder people are increasingly turning to…

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29/51 - 11 of the Best Gifts for the DIYer on Your List

Giving the right gift to a DIY home renovator can be challenging. With lots to choose from, picking out just the right thing for your favorite home maintenance expert or finding something great for a kitchen cabinet self-installer can really be tricky. From beginners to DIY veterans, here are some of our favorite gift…

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30/51 - Win a Free Steam Deck While Watching Video Games Win Awards

Do you like video games? Do you like watching video game creators win awards? Do you like free stuff? Then you’ll love Valve’s new giveaway: Watch this year’s Game Awards through SteamTV, and you’ll have the chance to win a new 512GB Steam Deck, which typically retails for $649. The video game developers may get the…

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31/51 - Don't Make Cookies Without a Fish Spatula

In December, my oven is primed for its biggest task of the year: epic stints of cookie baking. Over the next three weeks, hundreds of cookies will roll out with different shapes, textures, and sizes, and my most-needed tool won’t be a stand mixer or even parchment paper. It’s a fish spatula.

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32/51 - 15 of the Best ‘CleanTok’ Accounts to Follow on TikTok

Cleaning your home can be relaxing for some, or an anxiety-producing nightmare for others. Everyone is different. What is slightly more unifying is the reality of watching other people clean up: It’s weirdly relaxing. It’s also informative—you can get some cool tips while watching a tidy master conquer their messy…

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33/51 - Wordle Has Themes Now, so You Should Change Your Strategy

Wordle is still played the same way as ever, and if you just want a simple game without overthinking it, that’s all you need to know. But things have been changing behind the scenes, and that includes the way solutions are chosen.

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34/51 - 12 Podcasts You Can Listen to in the Car With Your Kids

The holidays are here, which means you’ll probably be spending lots of time in the car or with your family, or in the car with your family—packed into a confined space with energetic kids, elderly grandparents, and everyone in between. Luckily, podcasts can make that trip to Aunt Cindy’s house a little more bearable…

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35/51 - Here's When It's Time to Repot an Indoor Plant

Caring for houseplants might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Repotting is a simple step you can take to keep your indoor plants healthy by reinvigorating the soil and boosting available nutrients. You can also repot to transition a plant into a larger pot if it’s showing signs that it’s overgrown the one…

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36/51 - These Symptoms Are (Fairly) Normal After Having Sex

Hopefully you feel blissfully exhausted after sex and not too worried about what’s happening to your insides afterwards. But since sex is a full-body activity, it makes sense that you might experience some physical symptoms afterwards.

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37/51 - You Can Get Free Pizza Hut If You Ruin Your Dinner This Month

The holidays can be a chaotic time when you have a full house, and you’re just trying to do your best to impress the in-laws with your cooking. You certainly wouldn’t be the first person to burn your would-be fancy dinner, but this year, a burnt casserole or overly dried-out turkey doesn’t have to ruin the evening: T…

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38/51 - Here's How to Identify (and Cope With) a Covert Narcissist

Although most people are familiar with the pop culture version of narcissism—in which a person believes that the world revolves around them, and should be treated accordingly—it’s much more nuanced than that. In fact, there are different types of narcissism, including a version known as “covert narcissism.” Here’s…

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39/51 - How to Tell If an Instagram Account Is Fake

It’s no secret Instagram is plagued with fake accounts, bots, and impersonators. Just take a look at any comments section on any trending post and you’ll see it’s swarmed with thirst traps and crypto “moguls.” But there are far more elaborate fake accounts out there that have mastered the art of seeming genuine on the…

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40/51 - Why You Should Start Your New Fitness Routine Before the New Year

If you’re looking to start or restart a fitness habit in the new year, here is the best tip you’re going to get all month: start now. Yes, now, in the middle of the holiday season and end-of-year chaos. Yes, now, when nobody else is getting into it. Yes, now, even though you may not have even decided what exactly you…

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41/51 - Apple Might Owe You Money for Your MacBook's Butterfly Keyboard

MacBooks have, for the most part, been known to some of the best keyboards in the biz. For the most part. From 2015 through 2019, though, Apple “revolutionized” its laptops with the butterfly keyboard, a low-travel keyboard prone (or doomed) to failure. Sticky keys and double-presses have plagued so many users, Apple…

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42/51 - Here's Why (and How) You Should Hang Your TV From the Ceiling

I’m here today to make the case for a unique space-saving technique I have employed in my apartment for two years: Mount your TV to the ceiling. Do it. You don’t need a bulky entertainment center taking up valuable wall space; your TV can simply float above your head, and look cool doing it. (But don’t tell Reddit,

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43/51 - Those Big Red Bows From Car Commercials are Real and You Can Buy One

Have you ever seen a car commercial on TV and wondered where those big red bows come from? You’re not the only one—Capital One Bank even assembled an entire fact sheet about them. As silly and over-the-top as it is, there’s no denying that a car with a huge bow on it offers a certain sort of appeal. If it is an appeal…

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44/51 - 10 Morally Grey Sci-Fi Shows to Watch After 'Andor'

I might just be speaking for myself here, but Andor, the just-ended series from Disney+, reignited a bit of the passion for Star Wars that had been dulled by a run of entirely competent and entertaining movies and miniseries that, nonetheless, began to feel like empty calories. The franchise doesn’t strictly require…

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45/51 - The Easy Way to Freeze (and Thaw) Leftover Turkey

Some foods keep fine in the fridge for longer than others, and whether you observe the rules of the USDA (which advises that most foods be trashed after three to four days of refrigeration) or live by the sniff-and-taste model, it’s good to be aware of when the final day is near—and nearly a week out, the end is darn…

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46/51 - Here's How to Make Your Instafest Concert Lineup

It’s the time of year when everyone shares their Spotify’s Wrapped statistics, but there’s a new and unique way that some people are sharing their top artists.

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47/51 - You’re Doing Winter Recycling All Wrong

We all know recycling is a generally good practice, but it’s one of those things where it’s not really not just the thought that counts. If you recycle incorrectly, the goods you’re trying to preserve for reuse can be rendered useless. In the winter time, in particular, there are some seasonally specific recycling…

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48/51 - 9 Gifts for Your Favorite Wine Lover

Wine culture has exploded in recent years, yielding a variety of cringe-y handicrafts (think t-shirts that say “it’s wine o’clock” and tumblers that emblazoned with “mommy’s special grape juice”). If you have a friend who’s really into wine, you might be tempted to give them some of this junk for the holidays, but we…

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49/51 - How to Unclog the Dishwasher Yourself

If you have a houseful of guests, or are engaged in a holiday baking marathon, a clogged dishwasher can really slow down your operation. Hand washing all your dishes uses more time and water than using your appliance—but getting a professional out to look at your dishwasher during the holidays can be hard to schedule,…

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50/51 - These Glitches Let You Cheat in 'Pokémon Scarlet' and 'Violet'

By now, you probably know how buggy Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are. At this point, the glitches and issues are more features than bugs. Most of the games’ quirks seem to range from harmless to game-breaking, but there are some newly-discovered ones you can use for your benefit...specifically to duplicate items and…

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51/51 - 9 Mostly Untrue Myths About Witch Hunts

The medieval phenomena of witch trials and witch hunts loom large in our collective imaginations. A “witch hunt” is a political term for what one perceives as baseless persecution; anti-communist hearings inspired an allegorical play about the Salem witch trials.

But how much do you know about actual witch hunts?…

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News

Gizmodo

Items count = 51

1/51 - The Twitter Files, Explained

Late Friday night, journalist Matt Taibbi released “The Twitter Files,” a batch of emails sent by Twitter executives discussing the company’s decision to stop an October 2020 New York Post story in its online tracks.

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2/51 - The Last of Us Brings the Father-Daughter Road Trip to Live Action

With its adaptation of The Last of Us, HBO is banking on the goodwill that Naughty Dog’s zombie-adventure franchise has banked through two games, an expansion, and a handful of comics. An adaptation of the series was always going to draw attention, but putting Pedro Pascal in the lead role as Joel and hiring

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3/51 - The Witcher: Blood Origin is a Clash of Swords and Other Worlds

Though the future of Netflix’s The Witcher is in an....interesting (if somewhat uncertain) place at the moment, its past couldn’t feel more sure of itself. Later in the month, the fantasy series is receiving another prequel in the form of Blood Origin, which aims to tell the story of the very first Witcher and show…

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4/51 - Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Gets His First Disney Animated Short in Decades

Next year, the Walt Disney Company will turn 100 years old. Ahead of that big milestone, Disney’s released a new animated short highlighting one of the oldest and long-forgotten creations: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

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5/51 - 'We’re Gonna Drop a Bomb' | David Harbour on Thunderbolts

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6/51 - Los Espookys Canceled by HBO After 2 Seasons

The HBO horror-comedy series Los Espookys is calling it after two seasons. Like with Westworld from back in November, HBO has opted not to bring the series back for another season of episodes.

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7/51 - Martial Arts Game Sifu is Being Resurrected Into a Movie

Those who plays video games may recall a game from earlier this year (or, if you have a Nintendo Switch, a month ago) by the name of Sifu. Developed by Sloclap of Absolver fame, the roguelike simultaneously garnered solid reviews for its combat and criticism for how it incorporated Chinese culture and languages. Now…

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8/51 - Gutsy Dogs, Dueling Birds, and Other Award-Winning Animal Photos

In this collection from the 2022 Nature inFocus Photography Awards, you’ll see animals in their natural habitats—like a tiger lounging on a bed of flowers—and ones in decidedly unnatural environments, like a caterpillar in its nest of plastic or a fox in a snow-covered city. The contest received tens of thousands of…

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9/51 - This Year's Top AP Photos Are a Haunting Reminder of the State of the World

The Associated Press showcased its top photographs of 2022, reflecting on a year that’s experienced plenty of ups and downs across the globe.

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10/51 - Elon Has Restored Nearly 12,000 Banned Twitter Accounts, Data Shows

Twitter owner Elon Musk’s goal for “general amnesty” towards banned accounts is in full swing. Since taking over, the multi-billionaire owner has given thousands of once-banned users access to their accounts once again. His extreme laissez faire-attitude has attracted some of Twitter’s worst characters back to the…

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11/51 - The Latest News From Disney Parks, Universal Studios Resorts, and More Fan-tastical Destinations

It’s officially time for the everything to be decked out in lights and for Sandy Claws and the Grinch to reign. Hey, they were really ahead of the curve with Santa cosplay. Jack Skellington has been in residence at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland since fall. And of course the real mean one has taken up residence at…

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12/51 - Indiana Jones 5 Director James Mangold Sets Record Straight Over Inaccurate Online Rumors

Before the trailer for Indiana Jones 5 was released, the world hardly knew anything about it. They knew who was in the cast and its release date, but until the trailer hit, 99.9% of the world didn’t even know the film’s title. In some deep, dark pockets online, though, certain fans think they know everything, and…

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13/51 - This Week's Toy News Has Big Mechs, Big Knights, and Big Pokémon

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the coolest collectibles and most marvelous merchandise around. This week, we’ve got a whole host of Marvel Lego to assemble, Transformers goes retro again, and the armored star of Demon’s Souls braves the world of action figures. Check it out!

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14/51 - ‘I’ve Been Obsessed with American Shows Since I Was a Kid’

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15/51 - Margot Robbie’s Pirates of the Caribbean Film Might Still Set Sail

Margot Robbie’s female-led Pirates of the Caribbean film, which was announced in 2020, might actually be back on the docket. Although Robbie said in an interview a few weeks ago that Disney “wasn’t interested” in the script, Jerry Bruckheimer, the executive producer of all five Pirates of the Caribbean films, has told

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16/51 - Funky Doodles by Woman Named Eadburg Found in Medieval Manuscript

Researchers inspecting a New Testament manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library have discovered Medieval scribbles in the tome’s margins that they believe link the text to a woman named Eadburg.

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17/51 - Do or Do Not, But There Is Also Try

Remember this: Try,” evokes the voice of Karis Nemik in Andor’s incredible finale, the spirited conclusion to the manifesto he’ll never get to see the end result of—a line that, in the moment, feels like a pointed rejoinder to the philosophy of the Jedi that are entirely absent from the show. But for all their…

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18/51 - Drought and Christmas Trees | Extreme Earth

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19/51 - An Experimental HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Human Trial

An experimental HIV vaccine appears to have passed its first test in humans. In a newly released study, the vaccine candidate produced the sort of immune response that scientists had been hoping for in 97% of recipients. Importantly, the vaccine also seemed to be safe and well-tolerated.

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20/51 - EPA Green-Lights Denver’s $700 Million Plan to Finally Remove Lead Pipes

The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved an almost $700 million plan to remove lead water pipes in the Denver, Colorado area. The agency has called the local water utility’s efforts an “example” to other utilities around the country looking to replace their old lead water lines, the Associated Press…

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21/51 - First Look at The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Features the Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon

Joining the franchise spin-off trend, finally, is that Daryl Dixon series from The Walking Dead starring Norman Reedus. Here’s the first look at the cult icon reprising his role to keep the zombie universe that won’t die going.

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22/51 - The (Other) Messy Election in Georgia

There’s an incredibly heated, competitive election going on in Georgia right now. And no, it’s not for a Senate seat—but it’s got just as many twists and turns as the race taking up the national spotlight.

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23/51 - After Discovery of Huge Data Breach, Twitter Alternative Hive Goes Offline

Not long after Elon Musk took over Twitter and started doing a whole lot of crazy stuff to the platform, the microblogging app Hive Social saw a huge spike in users. Apparently fed up with Elon’s shit, a bunch of people had decided to try out alternative social media sites—and Hive was one of them. Launched back in…

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24/51 - Social Media App Triller Pulls Music Catalog Over Alleged Debts

If you’ve ever used the video sharing app Triller, you may be surprised to find that some of your favorite music is no longer available. If you’ve never used Triller, you’re not missing much. The video sharing app has reportedly removed songs from its music catalog amidst a major debt to certain music publishing…

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25/51 - Hate Speech on Twitter Skyrocketed While Elon Said He Was Winning, New Research Shows

On November 23rd, Elon Musk tweeted that hate speech “impressions” were down by one third on the platform, along with a graph and a victorious congratulations to his employees. During the same period, the actual use of hate speech on Twitter rose exponentially, according to new research.

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26/51 - No, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Is Not Referencing Among Us

The first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is jam-packed with evocative, curious images. You could go through each frame and try and figure out who lives, who dies, what’s going on, and more. (In fact, we have; check it out.) Six months from release, writer/director James Gunn surely doesn’t want to spoil…

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27/51 - NYC Is Looking for Someone Tough Enough to Vanquish the City's Rat Army

New York City is on the hunt for a pied piper. This week, city officials announced that they’re looking to hire a dedicated rat czar that will lead the charge in rooting out the persistent vermin. The job will pay as much as $170,000 a year but requires a “general aura of badassery,” according to the city’s own job…

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28/51 - Edward Snowden Reportedly Swore an Oath to Russia in Exchange for a Passport

Edward Snowden, the United States’ most notorious surveillance whistleblower, now holds a Russian passport. In exchange for the document, Snowden, considered both a patriot and a traitor in the U.S. depending on who you ask, has reportedly sworn an oath of allegiance to the Russian state.

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29/51 - Everything We Saw in the New Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Trailer

Well, here we are again: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is just around the corner, and despite watching its new trailer I have only the vaguest idea of what we’re going to be seeing on screen in May. That’s likely for the best; if I knew what the actual plot was, I probably wouldn’t be curious at all. Regardless, it’s…

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30/51 - SpaceX Gets ‘Partial’ FCC Approval to Deploy Second-Generation Starlink Satellites

The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX’s request to launch 7,500 second-generation Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit, while firmly pressing the pause button on the remaining 22,488 satellites the company is hoping to deploy.

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31/51 - Airplane Mode to Become Obsolete in the EU

It looks like airplane mode will become a thing of the past in the European Union (EU) starting next year, following the European Commission’s decision to allow airline passengers to use data and even perhaps make calls while in the air. The ruling will allow airlines to provide 5G technology rather than offering…

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32/51 - The Peripheral Finale Was Too Confusing to Be Satisfying

The PeripheralPrime Video’s William Gibson adaptation from the producers of Westworld—explored some intriguing ideas in its tale of a young woman whose virtual-reality adventuring vaults her into a broken version of the future. But today’s season finale felt like a scramble to the finish; there was too much going on…

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33/51 - Better Late Than Never: Tesla Delivers First Electric Semi Truck Three Years Behind Schedule

They say good things come to those who wait. While that may be true in some cases, the jury’s still out on whether that adage will apply to Tesla’s long-awaited electric semi truck. This week, five years after it was revealed and three years after it was expected to go on the market, the electric vehicle maker has…

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34/51 - Hackers Exploit a DeFi Project to Mint 4 Quadrillion Crypto Tokens

Just how far will hackers go to eek out a profit from a crypto entity? In one DeFi projects’ case, those looking to exploit found they could make a pretty penny by simply telling the system to mint a quadrillion crypto tokens.

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35/51 - The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself's Showrunner Talks Found Family and Love Triangles

A few weeks ago, without a lot of fanfare, Netflix dropped one of the most exciting and gritty YA series of 2022: The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself. Adapted from Sally Green’s series of novels that started with Half Bad, the show follows a young witch, Nathan (Jay Lycurgo), as he attempts to escape the clutches of a

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36/51 - Man in Alaska Rescued With New iPhone 14 Satellite Emergency Feature

With the release of the Apple iPhone 14 comes the release of one of the company’s newest features: Emergency SOS. Emergency SOS allows you to connect with emergency services via a satellite connection as opposed to cellular data or wifi, which are sparse in remote areas. The feature saved a man lost in the Alaskan…

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37/51 - Webb Telescope Turns Its Eye on Saturn's Mysterious Moon Titan

The Webb Space Telescope snapped images of Saturn’s moon Titan last month, which are now released for our viewing pleasure. The images offer a newly detailed view of Titan’s atmospheric makeup and even elements of its strange surface.

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38/51 - Google Messages is Finally Encrypting Group Chats

Google’s on an update kick this week. After bringing sharable digital car keys to Android and Adidas app integration to Wear OS, the company announced that end-to-end encryption for group chats is coming to Messages by Google, the default messaging app for most Android smartphones.

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39/51 - Netflix Cancels The Midnight Club Hours After Creator Moves to Amazon

The horrors stalking the terminally ill, teenage patients living at Brightcliffe Hospice can’t compare to the horror of a streaming network scorned. Mere hours after it was announced yesterday that Midnight Club creator Mike Flanagan and his producing partner Trevor Macy would be exiting their deal at Netflix and…

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40/51 - Turn Your Apple Watch Into a Cordless Alarm Clock With Otterbox's New Power Bank

You can complain all you want, but if you want the benefits of a smartwatch, you’re going to have to get used to charging your timepiece almost every night. But as with every Apple device, there are plenty of accessories that promise to make this more convenient, and with Otterbox’s new power bank, you can even leave…

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41/51 - Is David Harbour Worried About Typecasting as Santa?

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42/51 - 10 Ugly Sweaters That'll Bring Holiday Cheer to the Nerd in Your Life

‘Tis the season to bust out the box of holiday-themed sweaters. I have about five that I cycle through every year, and each represents a different side of me. This year, I’m showing off my nerdy side with Microsoft’s Holiday Clippy sweater, which the company sent over to promote its existence. It’s a fine sweater, but…

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43/51 - Updates From Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, and More

Guillermo del Toro waxes lyrical about what he’d do with At the Mountains of Madness. The cast of Dune: The Sisterhood keeps growing. Plus, what’s to come on the series finale of Stargirl, and The Boys casts a mysterious figure. Spoilers, go!

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44/51 - Alex Jones Files for Second Bankruptcy: This Time, It's Personal

Alex Jones, the main face of the conspiracy flinging and hate spewing Info Wars, has all the charisma of a trash fire. Just like an enormous pile of burning garbage, Jones is certainly hard to ignore, even as the rank perfumes pervade the air. As many people shut their windows at the sight and smell, a fair few people…

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45/51 - Huawei Made a Smartwatch That Pops Open to Reveal a Pair of Wireless Earbuds Inside

It looks like the type of device you’d stumble across while shopping for gadgets from an airplane magazine, but the Huawei Watch Buds are very real, turning a smartwatch into a charging case for wireless earbuds that are accessible by lifting up the screen.

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46/51 - Disney Will Close Splash Mountain Next Month For Its Princess and the Frog Overhaul

A new Princess and the Frog attraction is closer to becoming a wish come true at Disney Parks. According to the company, the re-theme will begin with the closure of the flume ride’s current Splash Mountain incarnation on January 23 at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, making way for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. 

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47/51 - Newly Discovered Dinosaur Looks Like a Nightmare Goose

Paleontologists discovered a 71-million-year-old carnivorous dinosaur in Southern Mongolia that they believe had a body built for swimming and diving for prey. Though it looks a lot like a modern bird, it’s actually a non-avian dinosaur, meaning it’s likely an example of convergent evolution, a phenomenon in which…

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48/51 - The SLS Moon Rocket Exceeded Expectations With Its Historic Liftoff, NASA Says

NASA has conducted a preliminary review of the inaugural Space Launch System launch, saying the rocket met and even exceeded all expectations.

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49/51 - Behold, the Brands: YouTube Releases Top 10 Ads of 2022

YouTube just published its year-end review, rounding up the top trending content for 2022. Sure, you could check out their list of top videos, most popular creators or trendiest Shorts (the platform’s response to TikTok-style short form videos), but honestly, who cares about all that junk? We all know what you want to…

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50/51 - Kanye West Banned From Twitter After Posting Swastika and Texts With Elon Musk

Kanye West has been banned from Twitter after posting a swastika designed to look like a Star of David and sharing personal text messages the rapper had with Twitter owner Elon Musk. It’s not immediately clear if West was actually banned for the swastika or for publicly sharing his texts from Musk, who purchased…

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51/51 - Apple Spent $84,000 on Twitter Ads the Same Day Elon Tweeted It 'Mostly Stopped' Advertising There, New Data Shows

On Monday, Elon Musk picked a public fight with Apple, accusing the company of freezing its advertising on Twitter and wondering aloud if the alleged pause was because “they hate free speech in America.” In fact, Apple spent $84,615 on Twitter ads that very same day, according to data from Pathmatics, a digital ad…

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News

io9 | Gizmodo

Items count = 25

1/25 - The Last of Us Brings the Father-Daughter Road Trip to Live Action

Image: HBO

With its adaptation of The Last of Us, HBO is banking on the goodwill that Naughty Dog’s zombie-adventure franchise has banked through two games, an expansion, and a handful of comics. An adaptation of the series was always going to draw attention, but putting Pedro Pascal in the lead role as Joel and hiring Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin on as showrunner brought the upcoming series a greater air of prestige than it already would’ve gotten just by being an HBO drama and based on one of PlayStation’s premier franchises.

The Last of Us | Official Trailer | HBO Max

Like the original 2013 game, The Last of Us show is a post-apocalyptic road trip featuring Joel and Bella Ramsey’s Ellie as they cross the country to a hopeful safe zone where Ellie can contribute to a cure for a deadly disease that’s turned much of the world into monstrous zombies. But the series isn’t just going to be a straight-up adaptation; it plans on bringing in new characters—played by actors like Graham Greene and Ellie’s in-game actor Ashley Johnson—and enhancing already established ones, like Nick Offerman’s Bill. And it also plans on weaving in some Ellie’s past that was previously explored in the Left Behind DLC to the first game, which prominently features her friend Riley (Storm Reid).

The cheesiness of using a dark cover of “Take on Me” aside, the newest trailer for The Last of Us looks plenty gripping and enthralling in a way that HBO series often look in their trailers. What’ll be more interesting to see is what, if anything, it ultimately adds to Naughty Dog’s franchise beyond appeasing the cinematic dreams of the games’ director, Neil Druckmann.

Also starring Anna Torv, Gabriel Luna, and Nico Parker, The Last of Us hits HBO on January 15.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


2/25 - The Witcher: Blood Origin is a Clash of Swords and Other Worlds

Image: Netflix

Though the future of Netflix’s The Witcher is in an....interesting (if somewhat uncertain) place at the moment, its past couldn’t feel more sure of itself. Later in the month, the fantasy series is receiving another prequel in the form of Blood Origin, which aims to tell the story of the very first Witcher and show how the world of The Continent became filled with monsters and beings of other races that have become a part of Geralt of Rivia and his allies’ lives in the present day.

The Witcher: Blood Origin | Official Trailer | Netflix

As Blood Origin picks up, the elves are currently in the midst of a golden age. When an empire is preparing to wage war, it falls of a group of warriors to push them back. For the most part, Blood Origin’s marketing has focused on the elven trio of Scian (Michelle Yeoh), Éile (Sophia Brown), and Fjall (Laurence O’Fuarain), and they once again get the spotlight here. In addition to showing the growing bond between Éile and Fjall, the new trailer offers glimpses of some of their allies—like Huw Novelli as Brother Death and Francesa Mills as Meldof—and the larger threat that the Empire poses.

But the biggest threat to The Continent will end up being its merging with several worlds. Known in the universe of Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy series as the “Conjunction of the Spheres,” the event serves as the reason for why humans and other magical monsters have come to populate the world. Blood Origin aims to introduce all of that, and set the foundation for Elven society’s eventual demise and status as second-class citizens.

With how much Netflix is positioning The Witcher as one of its key franchises going forward, Blood Origin arguably serves as the most important test to the series’ viability thus far. Hopefully it’s as good as it looks, because it looks real good, and watching a bunch of people sling magic and kill each other while wearing fake ears sounds like a pretty fun way to close out the year.

Also starring Mirren Mack, Lenny Henry, Minner Driver, and a returning Joey Batey as Jaskier, The Witcher: Blood Origin will release on Netflix in four parts on Christmas Day.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


3/25 - Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Gets His First Disney Animated Short in Decades

Image: Disney Animation

Next year, the Walt Disney Company will turn 100 years old. Ahead of that big milestone, Disney’s released a new animated short highlighting one of the oldest and long-forgotten creations: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Released earlier in the week, the short is fittingly in black-and-white and features traditional animation. That the short is about the character returning to film was an intentional choice, said director Eric Goldberg in a statement. “We wanted to bring Oswald back, and in the short, he literally returns to his original home, the movie screen,” he said. “We wanted to have Oswald do all of the ‘squash-and-stretch,’ ‘rubber hose’-animation style, celebrating that first generation of Walt Disney’s artists.”

“Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” l Walt Disney Animation Studios

Oswald was created in 1927 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, and first debuted in the “Trolley Troubles” short that same year. His entire filmography of nearly 30 shorts runs from 1927-1938, though most of those are from Universal, who acquired the rights from Disney in 1928. After Oswald was sold off, Disney and Iwerks went on to create Mickey Mouse, and the rest is history. As his time in shorts was winding down, Universal kept Oswald alive with a series of comics from the ‘30s to the late ‘60s, and gave him his own supporting cast, including surrogate sons. As his star power was fading, Universal eventually replaced him with Walter Lantz and Ben Hardaway’s Woody Woodpecker.

In 2006, Oswald was back to Disney by Universal in exchange for sportscaster Al Michaels jumping from ESPN to NBC Sports (seriously), though nothing big really came of this for several years. He was planned to star in his own series on Disney+, which would’ve been a follow up to the 2018 revival of The Three Caballeros, but that was later canned. The most substantial appearance he had was in the short-lived Epic Mickey video game series from Junction Point Studios, which was the first time he and Mickey appeared together in any capacity. In the sequel, it was even possible to play as Oswald if a second player was on hand.

Given how Disney loves to flex its IP-hoarding body at every opportunity, maybe we’ll be seeing more of Oswald in the near future? It’d be a little strange to release a short for the character 10 months before Disney’s celebrating the century milestone otherwise.

[via Polygon]


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


4/25 - 'We’re Gonna Drop a Bomb' | David Harbour on Thunderbolts


5/25 - Los Espookys Canceled by HBO After 2 Seasons

Image: HBO

The HBO horror-comedy series Los Espookys is calling it after two seasons. Like with Westworld from back in November, HBO has opted not to bring the series back for another season of episodes.

Per Deadline, the show’s end comes as its co-creator and star Julio Torres has moved on to pursue other projects, and its other stars have moved on to other work. In a press statement, HBO thanked Torres and co-creators Ana Fabrega and Fred Armisen “for this imaginative and delightfully bizarre world they created. We are not currently planning on a third season, but we would welcome the opportunity to work with this cast and crew in the future.”

Los Espookys originally premiered in 2019 and followed a group of friends played by Torres, Febrega, Bernado Velasco, Cassandra Ciangherotti. As fans of horror movies, the four conspire to make a business out of their love for the genre by creating scenarios from horror movies and trying to convince people those situations are real. It’s been touted as a very weird (and very funny) show, and received largely positive reviews and impressions.

However, it also had a noticeably long gap between seasons, understandably due to the COVID pandemic. Its second season premiered only a few months ago, and it didn’t help that it premiered at a timeslot of 11 pm on Friday nights. Friday nights can already be hit or miss for new episodes, but a slot as late as that certainly didn’t help matters. Combined with how it feels like shows are constantly fighting to get noticed or remembered by their already established audiences, and it’s a shame that Los Espooks got canned the way it did.

Torres, at the very least, will continue to work with HBO. He’s currently developing two other series for the network, the comedy Little Films and the coming-of-age story Lucky.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


6/25 - Martial Arts Game Sifu is Being Resurrected Into a Movie

Image: Sloclap

Those who plays video games may recall a game from earlier this year (or, if you have a Nintendo Switch, a month ago) by the name of Sifu. Developed by Sloclap of Absolver fame, the roguelike simultaneously garnered solid reviews for its combat and criticism for how it incorporated Chinese culture and languages. Now things are about to come full circle, as the game inspired by Chinese martial arts films is about to become a martial arts film of its own.

Originally reported by Deadline earlier in the week, John Wick writer Derek Kolstad is using his production company Story Kitchen, which reportedly won the rights after a “competitive pursuit.” Kolstad will also be penning the script, and continues his fairly recent streak of adapting games: recall that he’s working on shows for Splinter Cell and Dungeons & Dragons, in addition to a movie for Streets of Rage. Another noteworthy addition on the producer’s side is Jeff Ludwig, who’s also producing the AMC adaptation of Remedy’s Alan Wake.

Sifu becoming a movie would be notable on its own, both because of its martial arts combat being a perfect fit for film, and the glut of games being tapped to become shows or films. But its gameplay mechanics offer a neat little hook, and something potentially interesting to hang a movie around: when the player character dies, they’re magically resurrected where they last perished. But upon resurrection, the character also ages several years, at which point their power grows in proportionate to how much damage they can take; when they die after reaching a certain age threshold, they’re completely dead and have to start the run over.

It’s an interesting dynamic in terms of gameplay, but raises some questions about how to properly bring that across in a film itself. Granted, we’re still a few years off from it being a reality, so it’s possible that a sweet spot will be hit between honoring the game’s roguelike roots and not messing with the kung fu action flow that’s come to define Kolstad’s movies. And hopefully they actually have some Chinese people involved in the film’s production while they’re at it.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


7/25 - The Latest News From Disney Parks, Universal Studios Resorts, and More Fan-tastical Destinations

Photo: Sabina Graves/Gizmodo

It’s officially time for the everything to be decked out in lights and for Sandy Claws and the Grinch to reign. Hey, they were really ahead of the curve with Santa cosplay. Jack Skellington has been in residence at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland since fall. And of course the real mean one has taken up residence at Universal Studios for Grinchmas.

Here’s the latest themed entertainment happenings at amusement parks and beyond!

Disneyland

The Disneyland Resort is celebrating the holidays in a big way with Marvel merriment, the Festival of Holidays, snow at Disneyland, Grogu plus daddy Mando in Galaxy’s Edge, and more.

Walt Disney World

Winter has taken over with new Frozen additions at the Winter Summerland mini golf course, Guardians of the Galaxy holiday music on Cosmic Rewind in Epcot, the International Festival of the Holidays, and the news that Splash Mountain will be closing early in the new year.

Universal Studios Hollywood Grinchmas

Meet the mayor of Whoville and see the Grinch steal Christmas daily!

Cinematic New Year’s at Universal Studios Hollywood

The New Year’s Eve event at Universal Studios Hollywood is included with admission on December 31; you can buy tickets here.

Stranger Things Experience

Stranger Things: The Experience” is now open in Los Angeles. The 30-minute immersive story invites you to Hawkins and takes you to the Upside Down. Find tickets here.

Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure

No one does it like the Grinch! Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure runs until the end of the year.

Universal’s Great Movie Escape

Themed escape rooms inspired by Back to the Future and Jurassic World open December 9 at the Universal Studios Orlando resort. Book tickets here.

LA Comic Con

Marvel star Simu Liu leads special guests at Los Angeles Comic Con taking place this weekend.

Game of Thrones Convention

Celebrate the Game of Thrones universe at its first convention! It’s happening December 9-11 and features stars from the original series and House of the Dragon. Get tickets here.

Lost Spirits Distillery

Visit the literary infused mixology haven in Las Vegas. Book tours here.

Area 15 Nightmare Before Christmas

The Las Vegas interactive destination will be hosting immersive screenings of The Nightmare Before Christmas through the end of the month. Find more info here.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


8/25 - Indiana Jones 5 Director James Mangold Sets Record Straight Over Inaccurate Online Rumors

Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is at the center of a dumb Indy controversy.
Image: Lucasfilm

Before the trailer for Indiana Jones 5 was released, the world hardly knew anything about it. They knew who was in the cast and its release date, but until the trailer hit, 99.9% of the world didn’t even know the film’s title. In some deep, dark pockets online, though, certain fans think they know everything, and director James Mangold just fired back.

We now know the fifth Indiana Jones is called Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. It’s set in the 1960s and begins with a flashback featuring Harrison Ford de-aged, fighting Nazis. As for what specifically the “Dial of Destiny” is or what the movie is actually about, that’s officially still a mystery. Some online sleuths have begun to piece it together—while others have gone on to fabricate wildly inaccurate and, frankly, misogynistic predictions, and those were what Mangold addressed Friday.

What follows is largely non-spoiler but, according to io9 sources, does give away some very broad strokes about the plot of Dial of Destiny. So if you’d prefer to remain completely spoiler-free, go away now.

The prevailing rumor for the past several months, and one that io9 believes to be accurate, is that Dial of Destiny somehow involves time travel. Now, what does that mean? How? Why? Those things we don’t know and really would rather not know until June 30. What we do know is that online trolls have taken that nugget and fabricated an ending for the film that is not correct. But, with the time-travel plot becoming more likely with each and every reveal, some fans continue to perpetuate the lie.

“Well Indiana Jones and the dial of destiny looks amazing @mang0ld, but if Indy dies and is erased from existence with Phoebe Waller Bridge taking over then you won’t hear the end of it sir! I hope that doomcock dude is wrong! Just have Indy and Marion retire!” tweeted user @Jonesy0091. And yes, that’s the theory. Via time travel, Indiana Jones will go back in time and erase himself, making it so Waller-Bridge’s character, Helena, will have canonically completed all of Indy’s adventures. The rumor goes so far as to say the film ends with scenes from the original four films, all of which now have Helena in them. (Fans have even created fake screenshots of the scenes which are beyond hilarious.)

A few weeks ago, another fan tweeted this theory to Mangold as a screenshot who simply replied “Not true,” before going on to a few other points. Friday’s response to the above tweet went further, though. “One more time. No one is ‘taking over’ or replacing Indy or donning his hat nor is he being ‘erased’ thru some contrivance— and he never was, not not in any cut or script — but trolls will troll — that’s how they get their clicks,” Mangold tweeted.

He continued: “And please don’t exhaust me pointing out how once in a while a troll is ‘right.’ Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now & then. All one has to do is look at set photos & interviews & u get enough info to make wild guesses about a movie plot.” This, we can infer, refers to the fact that time travel is in fact part of the plot. But there’s more. “The diff between trolling a-holes & everyone else is they r trying to make $ off your feelings about other films & culture war politics. They push controversial guesses as coming from ‘sources’ to gin up clicks. Let it go.” And with that, the director probably went back to actually making the movie.

First of all, bravo to James Mangold for speaking out and defending his movie, something he doesn’t have to do and most Disney executives probably would’ve advised against. You never feed the trolls. But he, like others who have followed this story, is probably fed up not only at people believing blatant lies, but also their undercurrent of hatred and misogyny. That anyone could get so wound up about the slightest possibility of a woman having the same accomplishments as Indiana Jones is absurd at best and offensive at worst. These are fictional characters. Characters meant to engage and reflect the audience regardless of gender, race, age, height, etc. For decades non-men watched Indy movies and enjoyed them. Men can’t watch a woman in the role for five minutes and be cool with it? (Which, again, does not happen.)

Even if that was the ending—which, for the last time, it is not—if Indy the character chose to erase himself in a movie, that doesn’t erase the movies themselves. You could still watch them and see Indy find the Ark or Holy Grail, regardless of what follows. You’d think a person obsessed enough with Indiana Jones to be reading spoilers about the ending of his new movie months ahead of time could respect the decision of the fictional character they’ve put such an onus on.

io9 reached out to Lucasfilm which did not have a comment on the situation. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens June 30 and we’ll have much more in the coming months.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


9/25 - This Week's Toy News Has Big Mechs, Big Knights, and Big Pokémon

Image: Lego, Goodsmile Company, and Jazwares

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the coolest collectibles and most marvelous merchandise around. This week, we’ve got a whole host of Marvel Lego to assemble, Transformers goes retro again, and the armored star of Demon’s Souls braves the world of action figures. Check it out!


Image: Lego

Lego Marvel Hulk Mech Armor, Thanos Mech Armor, Rocket Mech Armor, and Ghost Rider Mech & Bike

With 2023 just around the corner, Lego has revealed a mountain of new sets that will be debuting in the new year, including four new additions to the Marvel mech line which give popular MCU characters their own matching Hulkbuster-esque armored suits. Arriving on January 1 are the 138-piece Hulk Mech Armor (does he really need a power suit?), the 113-piece Thanos Mech Armor (again, since he’s wearing the bejeweled Infinity Gauntlet, does he really need a mech?), the 98-piece Rocket Mech Armor, and the 264-piece Ghost Rider Mech & Bike which, unlike the other $15 offerings, is priced at $35, as it includes a matching buildable motorcycle.


Image: Super7

Super7 Transformers ReAction Figures Wave 6: Ultra Magnus, Cyclonus, Wreck-Gar, Sharkticon, Quintesson, and Unicron

Are Super7's minimally-articulated ReAction figures starting to grow on us? They’re not our first choice when it comes to stocking our shelves with figures, but designs like these six new 3.75-inch tall figs based on the stars of The Transformers: The Movie are hitting us right in the nostalgic feels. This wave introduces Ultra Magnus, Cyclonus, Wreck-Gar, a Sharkticon, a Quintesson, and a six-inch ReAction version of Unicron, “based on Hasbro’s unreleased vintage prototype.” Individually the figures are $20 each (or $24 for Unicron) but you can also grab the whole set for $124 and save absolutely no money in the process.


Image: Lego

Lego Marvel The Hulkbuster: The Battle of Wakanda

Back in October, Lego released a 4,049-piece, $550 model of Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor that was the largest Lego Marvel set to date. But reviews of it haven’t been so great, with many collectors lamenting its design and the gaps around the arm joints, as well as the fact that its legs are locked in place for stability. Lego’s new 385-piece, the Hulkbuster: The Battle of Wakanda set, will be a full $500 cheaper when it arrives on January 1, and looks to offer better articulation at a much smaller scale. It also comes with four minifigures: Bruce Banner with an alternate “going green” face, Okoye, and two outriders.


Pokémon Flame & Flight Deluxe Charizard TV Commercial | Jazwares

Jazwares Pokémon Flame & Flight Deluxe Charizard

The Pokémon fad shows no signs of slowing down after 26 years, roping in generation after generation of gamers and bringing with it an endless run of toys and collectibles. Jazwares’ new Pokémon Flame & Flight Deluxe Charizard packs the figure with a bunch of electronic features including sound effects, a flame launching mechanism, a light-up tail, and even wings that automatically flap as the toy is played with. It’s available now for around $30, and only has an appetite for three AAA batteries and victory.


Image: Lego

Lego Marvel The Avengers Quinjet

There have been quite a few Lego versions of the the Avengers’ Quinjet released over the run of the MCU, and this latest version is... another one. At 795-pieces it’s far from the largest or most detailed iteration released yet, but it does include an opening cockpit, retractable landing gear, and a full interior with a rear cargo door that lowers; it also comes with its own display stand for mid-flight poses. It will officially be available starting on January 1 for $100, and will come with five minifigs: Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor and Mjolnir, and Loki with a scepter.


Image: Goodsmile Company

Goodsmile Company Figma Demon’s Souls Fluted Armor

The “star” of legendary Fromsoftware dark fantasy RPG/stress simulator Demon’s Souls is pretty much just the guy from the cover, considering your hero can be anyone you choose to create and what bits of armor and weapons you loot over the course of dying repeatedly. But the fluted armor set that graces the Knight on both its PS3 and PS5 box arts is as close to “iconic” that the Souls franchise can get, so it makes sense that Demon’s Souls is honored in plastic form with it. The Fluted Armor figma comes not just standard sword and shield associated with the Knight starting class from the game, but a bevy of extra weapons and shields inspired by it: the Knight Sword, Meat Cleaver, Dark Silver Shield, Iron Knuckle, and the Large Sword of Moonlight. As well as alternate hands, the figure comes with parts to display either of the shields on the back of the figure, and a stand. The Fluted Armor figure is set to release in October 2023 in Japan, where it will cost you around $115. [AmiAmi]


Image: Lego

Lego BrickHeadz Tusken Raider

Even if your opinion of Boba Fett took a hit after watching The Book of Boba Fett, you undoubtedly walked away from the series with a new appreciation for the Tusken Raiders. We still don’t know what’s under those fierce-looking headpieces, but Lego has managed to make the sand people—dare we say it?—look adorable as a cartoonish BrickHeadz character. This 152-piece set will officially be available starting on January 1 for $10, and includes a buildable gaffi stick plus a blaster.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


10/25 - ‘I’ve Been Obsessed with American Shows Since I Was a Kid’


11/25 - Margot Robbie’s Pirates of the Caribbean Film Might Still Set Sail

Margot Robbie might yet make it to the high seas.
Photo: John Phillips / Stringer (Getty Images)

Margot Robbie’s female-led Pirates of the Caribbean film, which was announced in 2020, might actually be back on the docket. Although Robbie said in an interview a few weeks ago that Disney “wasn’t interested” in the script, Jerry Bruckheimer, the executive producer of all five Pirates of the Caribbean films, has told Collider that the film, which would be penned by Birds of Prey writer, Christina Hodson, is still on the manifest.

Bruckheimer said that he thinks that Hodson’s script “will come forward at a certain point. We developed two different stories for Pirates and the other one’s going forward first, so that’s what we’re working on, to try to get that one made.” Not much is known about the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film. Screenwriter Ted Elliot is attached to the sixth film, alongside Craig Mazin. Elliot wrote the first four Pirates films, and Mazin created Chernobyl.

When the Sunday Times asked Bruckheimer if Johnny Depp would return to the franchise, he offered a similarly noncommital response. “Not at this point,” he said. “The future is yet to be decided.”


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


12/25 - Do or Do Not, But There Is Also Try

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Remember this: Try,” evokes the voice of Karis Nemik in Andor’s incredible finale, the spirited conclusion to the manifesto he’ll never get to see the end result of—a line that, in the moment, feels like a pointed rejoinder to the philosophy of the Jedi that are entirely absent from the show. But for all their literal opposites, maybe there’s more in common between Yoda and Nemik’s beliefs.

On the surface, and with some added background—namely, the Clone Wars and the Prequel Trilogy giving us not-entirely-glowing insight into what Yoda was like before he was a hermit mystic, peacing out of the Empire’s dominance of the galaxy in Empire Strikes Back—placing Nemik’s passionate call for resistance next to the venerable Jedi Master feels like a potent strike in Star Wars’ growing recontextualization of the low the Jedi Order was at when we encounter it in the movies. It’s the idea that everyone taking any act of insurrection is of benefit to a collective rebellion of the whole, even if they don’t know that there are others out there fighting the same fight they are.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Before its destruction at the hands of Palpatine’s subterfuge as a Sith, we are reminded time and time again of the Jedi’s recalcitrance as arbiters of justice and defenders of the common people, of how spiritual leaders like Yoda and the rest of the Jedi council are clouded by clinging to a hypocritical sense of orthodoxy even as it sets the stage for their inevitable ruin. Even without the influence of their infamous foes—a threat ignored until it was too late—the Jedi Order was in a spiral of decline, as a moralistic entity and as an institutional arm of the Republic, laying the path of their undoing and the rise of Imperial authoritarianism on a road of their own inaction. In this read of the Jedi, the one we are given in the prequels and in material like Clone Wars, Yoda’s words uttered to Luke in Empire Strikes Back feel almost cruel in their hypocrisy—how dare Yoda lecture someone on attempting to do something, when he idly stood by as Anakin was pushed further down a dark path, when in the wake of the Empire’s rise, Yoda decided to run away until a child he could wield as a tool against the Emperor had come of age?

It is against this critical interpretation of Yoda’s platitudes that Nemik’s manifesto in Andor stands most starkly in contrast. Andor is a series that is free of many of the mythical and spiritual trappings of other Star Wars material: the Force is never mentioned and neither are the Jedi, there are no magic powers and laser swords, there are just ordinary beings navigating a galaxy in the grip of overwhelming fascism. Nemik’s words do not implore people to leverage a godlike power they can tap into with enough effort (and, with the context of the prequels, winning a genetic lottery) or do nothing at all, but merely to keep trying, that perseverance in the face of darkness will bring life. Random acts of insurrection are everywhere, he says to us and Cassian alike; everyone involved in them is helping each other even if they don’t know it, and the larger cause is advanced in ways big and small with every act taken against the Empire. It’s beautiful, compared to the unfeeling backhanded advice of Yoda—as long as you try, as long as you are brave enough to take any act of resistance, you are part of something bigger, something spreading across the entire galaxy.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

But it is possible to also consider Nemik and Yoda’s words in lockstep with each other, in a way, talking about similar goals but with different languages. When Yoda tells Luke—who says in despair that he’ll never be able to use the Force to lift an X-Wing out of Dagobah’s swamp, but at least he’ll try—“Do or do not, there is no ‘try’,” Star Wars’ understanding of the Force was very different to the context in which we understand it today, the ways we have seen it explained and deployed beyond the vague, mystical scope of the original trilogy. What Yoda is saying to him isn’t that there’s no point in trying at all, but that Luke has to overcome his doubt to fully wield the Force as a Jedi should—that there is no difference in terms of impossibility between lifting a rock with your mind to lifting a starfighter. If you can do one, you can do the other, because you are placing your trust in this higher connective power that binds the entire universe together. If you believe in the Force, that every living thing in the natural world is connected by it, that there is a greater magical whole that you too are part of and have learned to accept and call upon, you can achieve the impossible.

Nemik is talking about much the same thing, he’s just talking about it in a material manner, without the spiritual language of the Force or the Jedi that Yoda and Luke have. Fundamentally, he too is imploring people to overcome doubt; while the power of the Empire’s authority seems all-encompassing and steadfast, as long as people have the faith to try and push back against it, they will aid the larger rebellion’s effort, and that ultimately they will be connected to a cause beyond the personal scope of their own insurrection. Andor, for all the literal absence of Star Wars’ usual mysticism, is still a deeply spiritual show. It just happens to place those ideas in context of human emotion and connection instead of in an exterior energy like the Force.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

We may laugh and joke at The Rise of Skywalker’s opening line (“The Dead Speak!”), but in Andor they really do, something more literal than a Force ghost in recorded messages like Nemik’s manifesto or Maarva’s hologram at her own funeral, and something similarly ephemeral in the ways that Cassian recalls the advice of his adoptive father Clem when he brushes his father’s funerary stone upon returning to Ferrix. If the true higher power of the Force is in a shared connection across not just living things but across generations of people who believed in it, passing on to become part of this larger calling but still able to guide those left behind, Andor believes in a similar thing as well, in things like the traditions of Ferrix’s funeral rites, in Nemik’s dying wish to be for Cassian to receive his manifesto manuscript, or even in the idea of Luthen sacrificing his own existence for, as he says almost bitterly, a sunrise he knows he’ll never see.

When it comes to doing or not doing, or remembering to try, in the end Nemik and Yoda want the same thing: for people to realize that they are not alone, and that as long as they believe they can forge a bond with a whole galaxy of existence and face the impossible. And that if they do so, they might just also have the faith to overcome it.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


13/25 - First Look at The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Features the Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon

Photo: Emmanual Guimier/AMC via Entertainment Weekly

Joining the franchise spin-off trend, finally, is that Daryl Dixon series from The Walking Dead starring Norman Reedus. Here’s the first look at the cult icon reprising his role to keep the zombie universe that won’t die going.

AMC president Dan McDermott told Entertainment Weekly that the new show—which is imaginatively titled The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon—will “follow Daryl as he wakes up and finds himself somewhere on the European continent and tries to piece together what happened. How did he get here? How’s he going to get home?”

On The Walking Dead, Dixon was last seen riding off into the distance on his bike; somehow, he will end up in France. A few blanks were filled in by a mid-credits scene from the finale of another Walking Dead spin-off series, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, in which a scientist working in an abandoned French lab is shot after watching videos featuring The Walking Dead season one character Dr. Edwin Jenner. He was a virologist at the CDC with an interest in zombie variants—a plot point that re-emerged in the Walking Dead’s recent final season.

Reedus told Entertainment Weekly, “It’s a very different feel. It has the stuff that you want from the show, but it’s just picked up and put in a whole other dimension,” he said. “It’s a reset, you learn a lot of things after 12 years of doing a show, and there are certain paths that you inevitably have to go down because [there is such a big cast]. We don’t really have that over there. It’s kind of a fresh start for us, with all the things that we loved doing, and just a whole bunch more.”

Veteran Walking Dead director and executive producer Greg Nicotero is also back for the ride. “Greg’s a storyteller. He knows how to find the in between moments that really make or break the tone of something. And he’s good at bobbing and weaving, finding those things. And he’s got the history in the show and he knows his characters so well, so it’s really an asset,” Reedus shared.

All right, so who’s ready for Eurotrip: Zombie Edition? According to Reedus, the new series has been filming for three weeks; there’s no word yet on when it will arrive on AMC.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


14/25 - No, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Is Not Referencing Among Us

Five Guardians are ready to jump in Vol. 3
Image: Marvel Studios

The first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is jam-packed with evocative, curious images. You could go through each frame and try and figure out who lives, who dies, what’s going on, and more. (In fact, we have; check it out.) Six months from release, writer/director James Gunn surely doesn’t want to spoil anything just yet, but when it came to one scene in particular, he decided to clear it up.

The scene in question features five Guardians (Gamora, Star-Lord, Mantis, Nebula, and Drax... we think) wearing brightly colored spacesuits and jumping slowly through space down to some alien planet. You can see an image of it above. Anyway, while the bright colors certainly have Teletubbies vibes, the shape and colors had a Twitter user ask Gunn, “that’s an Among Us reference in the new Guardians trailer, right?” Gunn replied:

“No,” Gunn tweeted, with a photo from another very famous sci-fi project that used bright-colored spacesuits: Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a movie so famous that he literally didn’t need to say the name, just drop the picture, and most people probably got the reference.

It’s a film that’s having quite the week. Just yesterday, 2001 was ranked the sixth best film of all time on the latest Sight and Sound poll (which is put together by critics), but also the best movie of all time according to film directors. So, you know, probably a little more well-known than Among Us.

And while it would be easy to dunk on the question to be like “People need to watch more classic movies!” I honestly think it’s the opposite. That Gunn intended to pay tribute to 2001, but that other people see Among Us (or Teletubbies) is the beauty of art. Once it’s out in the world, it’s no longer the creator’s, it’s yours.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens May 5, 2023.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. 


15/25 - Everything We Saw in the New Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Trailer

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Well, here we are again: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is just around the corner, and despite watching its new trailer I have only the vaguest idea of what we’re going to be seeing on screen in May. That’s likely for the best; if I knew what the actual plot was, I probably wouldn’t be curious at all. Regardless, it’s time now to break down this trailer.

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 | Official Trailer

Starting out moody...

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

All right Star-Lord, let’s see what you got. We’ve got a pretty gloomy bridge scene where apparently nobody is driving this darn spaceship, but that’s not important. What is important is that we know despite having a crew, Star-Lord feels alone. Misunderstood. Morose. We must remember, Peter Quill is not actually as happy-go-lucky as his persona might lead you to believe... he is, in fact, just a sad boi.

Who’s driving this ship?

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

This certainly looks like it could be an Earth city. But as you can see, gone is the classic GotG ship, the Milano. This isn’t reminiscent at all of Quill’s previous ship or even the hawk-like Benatar. This is the Bowie, which we also saw in the recent Holiday special. It’s an interesting design, eschewing the classic fighter-pilot silhouette for a less aerodynamic but possibly faster design.

Bowie in the ‘burbs

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Okay a touchdown on... again, this looks like it could be an American suburb on Earth. Why aren’t they attempting to go someplace that might be more thoughtful? An open field? An air base? A shallow bay? What are they hoping to accomplish by literally landing in people’s front yards? This is going to block traffic. The HOA is going to have a fit. At least three mailboxes were destroyed.

Our fearless police force

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

This is our first good look at the Guardians. They’ve got a new kit—evoking the comics costumes of the Abnett/Lanning run that originally inspired the lineup of the team in the movies—complete with an official ravager seal, and damn, Groot has been hitting the gym, that tree-man is ripped. Gone is the ragtag group of outsiders; here is an Official Space Police Force, badges and all. It’s cool to finally see these costumes, but it’s a little disappointing that we don’t get any sense of these character’s individuality here that their past outfits evoked.

So... not Earth

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Look, I am all for weird planets with weird species but I cannot be the only one who sees something like this—a suburban wine mom with a bat head—and feels disappointed. We could have had some really cool visuals here, something fascinating and weird, and instead we have... Live Action Batgirl, alongside a whole host of other animal-humanoid hybrids. Are these meant to be experiments akin to the sentience Rocket was given in his time on Halfworld?

Kudos, though—I love a practical effect

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

I’m going to ignore the panda fursuit in the background because for the most part these prosthesis are Really Good, Actually. Do I like the styling here? No. Do I appreciate a wizened old rabbit man with an excellently laid beard? Yes, I do. The prosthesis department went for it in this scene and I respect that.

Oh no, little girl, oh no

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

God, I can already tell this is going to end badly. I am pained. I am in pain. Don’t try to befriend these idiots, little lemur girl, I’m begging you.

Seriously?

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

I knew I would hate this. Drax is a dad! A father! There is just no way that he would throw a kickball at a little lemur child like this. This is cheap comedy, Mr. Gunn, and you can do better than this poor excuse for physical humor.

(Again, props to the prop department, though, that postal worker looks amazing.)

We’re in the “find out” portion of the trailer

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Oh, to be a rock hitting Star-Lord’s face though.

Fuck the police!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Community keeps us safe!

Sad Boi Vol. 3

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Nobody wants this sad policeman in their community... it’s so hard being a member of the Gendarmerie of the Galaxy... but in all likelihood Peter is still upset about the death of Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and the complicated reality that there is—thanks to the latter’s time travel shenanigans—another Gamora who doesn’t really know Peter now hanging around.

Don’t forget where you came from

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

“Don’t forget where we came from,” Mantis implores, presumably to Peter—perhaps building on their moments together in the Holiday Special, where Mantis finally revealed to Peter that she is actually his sister, as a fellow child of Ego.

Oh, no...

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Oh this is bad. A baby rodent in a cage with an ominous hand coming closer...

Baby Rocket!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

He looks so afraid! We knew it was coming, but it looks like we’re going to be spending a lot of time focusing on Rocket’s backstory on Halfworld in this movie.

This is human abuse, actually

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

All right, so, a reminder for those who might not know—Rocket Raccoon is a genetically engineered raccoon who was put under a lot of tests and through a lot of pretty brutal augmentation to turn him to the blustery, loud, thieving Rocket we know and love (in small doses). He’s been pretty sensitive about this in the past, without a lot of diving into what actually happened. GotG Vol. 3 seems determined to pull on our heartstrings using our favorite fluffy freak of nature, and god if I didn’t have a small feeling in the deepest, darkest, most joy-killing corner of the stopwatch I call a heart.

Teletubbies in space!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

We kid, we kid—and this isn’t an Among Us reference either, despite the brightly colored, retro spacesuits the Guardians are clad in here: it’s indeed a reference to the suits of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Anyway, here’s the team heading toward... a stellar intestine?

Gamora’s back!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

This is our first look at Gamora in this trailer and she’s holding a Polaroid for some reason.

RIP Star-Lord (Probably Not)

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Still no Gamora, but we’ve got Cosmo the Spacedog, plus Kraglin, played by Sean Gunn, as Nebula carries Peter’s body through Knowhere—it’s all very evocative of some dramatic post-death scene but given the casual strides here, there’s a much better chance of Peter just being unconscious, or drunk, or in the wake of having done something typically stupid.

I love a schism

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Rocket is done running! I don’t know where he is running from or running to—presumably his past, given the huge focus it has in this trailer, but he’s ready to take the fight to the people who made him what he is.

Well, this is gross

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

This looks like a biomech nightmare. I really don’t like this visual at all, it’s gross and weird and doesn’t give me any kind of sense of place or purpose. The space intestine is distressing.

Baddie No. 1

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

All right, looking very Matrix here. Let’s see who we got...

The High Evolutionary!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

It’s Chukwudi Iwuji as the High Evolutionary. This might be our first clue to Rocket’s past—the High Evolutionary first showed up in the comics experimenting with genetic manipulation, and is currently best known for being the product behind the annoying headache retcon that stopped the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from being Mutants, just in time for their Age of Ultron debuts in the MCU. He built a genetic accelerator that he used first on rats, and then dogs. This hamster wheel that an unknown woman is running on might be a callback to the genetic accelerator of the comics (as well as being another nifty 2001 reference).

Gamora’s here!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

We’re in some kind of jail, I think, possibly in the laboratory/holding room of the High Evolutionary. There’s no sign of Groot or Rocket, so they might be causing chaos somewhere else. And what happened to Drax to cause that chest wound?

Bouncy bouncy

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

The Teletubbies are back! We are once again being given absolutely nothing. Are they running from the space intestine? Toward the space intestine? We don’t even know where we are!

Damn you, James Gunn

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

You’re going to make me care about Rocket Racoon, aren’t you? This is going to be the only reason I see this film, probably. Truly if he’s this tortured maybe we would all be better off if he got bravely killed off at the end of this film.

This is SPARTA!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Okay, Quill running at whoever this person is looks like a dramatic leap toward self-destruction and possibly world-saving. Will Quill sacrifice himself in this movie?

Byeeee

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

But we have no idea where this is though. Is this the facility we saw earlier? Is it inside that Space Intestine? Who knows.

Run boy, run

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

RIP, Bowie, you lasted for a Christmas special and probably half a movie.

Party time

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

I love Nebula, I really do. I’m glad to see her having fun here. Do I know why she’s celebrating? No. Do I care? A little bit, yeah I’d like to understand what on earth this movie is about, but I’ve given up on learning anything about that from this trailer.

The man that you are

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

The High Evolutionary definitely looks like a grade-A evil jerk, tbh. This looks a lot like the on-fire spaceship hanger that we’ve seen a few times, so I’m curious about what’s happening to bring this guy down from his bloody ivory tower.

Extra sad boi

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Okay, maybe... maybe Rocket Raccoon will be dying in this movie. It’s looking likely. Or someone at the least.

Introducing Lylla Otter

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Okay so this otter lady is Lylla Otter. In the comics she’s Rocket Racoon’s soulmate. It’s clear that this is an emotional reunion for the two of them, and we can see that one of Lylla’s biological arms has been replaced by a pretty rudimentary robot arm. I don’t think that Lylla is going to have anywhere near the same backstory as she does in the comics, but perhaps Rocket will give up space bounty hunting true marsupial love.

Adam Warlock!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Okay look, I have been waiting!! For Adam Warlock!! Since 2017!!!! He was the one thing I was excited for when I left GotG Vol. 2, and here he is! My bad boy!! Will Poulter finally makes his debut, and I’m thrilled. I will fully admit that for all that people care about emotional poignancy, I really like watching powerful dumbasses punch each other for very flimsy reasons. Warlock is here to deliver.

Lighting, please, I beg you

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

We’ve got another Abilisk (like the one we saw at the start of GotG Vol. 2), and I just wish that there was some way to, like, I dunno, see this monster better? Gosh, how would we do that?

War! Lock! War! Lock!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

This is Warlock and Nebula really getting into it, perhaps at that party that we saw earlier. This is a fight that I genuinely think will be very fun to watch.

The Guardians are back together!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Look at them! Gamora is here! No one’s horribly died just yet! And who’s that mysterious little creature running behind by Gamora?

“We are groot!”

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Sure, let’s do this. We are Groot. You are Groot. We’re all Groot, and so are all these gun-toting vine arms.

Gun kata activate!

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

Pew pew pew! This looks like this is part of that mysterious red tower fight we saw earlier.

That sure was a trailer

Screenshot: Marvel Entertainment

And that’s that, but despite being a pretty long trailer, we don’t really get to see too much about the movie, beyond it relying on us caring enough about Rocket Raccoon to see a whole origin story/revenge plot, while once again having to deal with Peter’s feelings for Gamora.

No doubt we’ll find out more in the coming months. I hope Rocket kisses that otter though, he does deserve to be happy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be released in theaters May 5, 2023.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


16/25 - The Peripheral Finale Was Too Confusing to Be Satisfying

Photo: Sophie Mutevelian/Prime Video

The PeripheralPrime Video’s William Gibson adaptation from the producers of Westworld—explored some intriguing ideas in its tale of a young woman whose virtual-reality adventuring vaults her into a broken version of the future. But today’s season finale felt like a scramble to the finish; there was too much going on in too little time, with an end that felt too abrupt to be satisfying... and required rewinds to make sense.

“The Creation of a Thousand Forests” isn’t the first time in my Peripheral experience that I had to re-watch scenes to make sure I was interpreting its events correctly—but it was the first time I still wasn’t entirely sure I had things figured out, even after multiple views. When io9 spoke to creator and showrunner Scott B. Smith in October, he explained making The Peripheral a challenging series that demanded close attention was a deliberate choice, and one inspired by its source material: “I think one thing I’ve always loved about Gibson’s work is that it’s not very accessible, and he draws on the reader’s intelligence to build the world. You have to watch how the characters use the terms and you gradually pick it up through that. We wanted that to be similar to the viewing experience—but at the same time, we knew that we couldn’t go too far with that without people just giving up in confusion. So we were trying to walk that line always.”

Evil rich guy Lev, plotting.
Photo: Sophie Mutevelian/Prime Video

In an era when an awful lot of pop culture, including TV shows with huge platforms on Prime Video, is calibrated to appeal to the largest audience possible, it’s admirable that The Peripheral didn’t set out to do that. But there has to be a point where things come together and the audience is at least somewhat rewarded for puzzling through the story’s more maddening moments. (If you stuck with Westworld, you know how that feels.) It’s not necessary to spell everything out—it’s almost always better when shows don’t feel the need to insult their audience by doing that—but there’s also the possibility of leaving too many things out of focus. Maybe there was a way to watch The Peripheral and not get hung up on plot points that somehow felt both under-explained and yet crucially important, but that wasn’t necessarily my experience, especially in the final episodes.

Part of the problem is that the show tried to do too much; while Chloë Grace Moretz held the center as main character Flynne Fisher—whose simple life in North Carolina, circa 2032, becomes entangled with potentially world-altering events in post-apocalyptic London, circa 2099—The Peripheral grappled with an overstuffed ensemble cast full of people with clashing motivations, not to mention two settings filled with high-stakes schemes and action. It sometimes prioritized certain storylines—like what felt like an entire episode dedicated to a flinty assassin hired by future baddies to kill Flynne and her family—that ultimately went nowhere, at the expense of ones that could have used more fleshing out.

Perhaps reading Gibson’s book before watching the show (which really shouldn’t be a prerequisite for understanding an adaptation) might’ve helped with the show’s murkier areas; though the plots aren’t identical, the novel surely has more detail on, for instance, the not-so-cold-war brewing among London’s three tentpoles of power: the elite “klepts,” the insidious Research Institute, and the all-knowing Metropolitan Police, not to mention the subversive “Neoprims” whose revolutionary rumblings are given short shrift throughout the series despite their last-act importance. The novel may have also helped with the big reveal that felt rushed in the show’s final two episodes, in which we finally learn why Flynne has become such a person of interest in the far-flung future, and do our best to keep up as she plots to “win” what started as a video game, but soon evolved into tangled journey across alternate timelines, with the fate of Flynne’s world—or worlds, rather—at stake.

BEWARE THE BEES
Photo: Sophie Mutevelian/Prime Video

Perhaps, also, eight episodes wasn’t enough for The Peripheral to do all it wanted to do. It sounds like I’m slamming the series as a whole, but there were high points along the way, including Miller as the fearless Flynne and T’Nia Miller (The Haunting of Bly Manor) as the sinister, impeccably poised head of the Research Institute, whose use of bees as a murder weapon won’t soon leave my nightmares. Still, even its other praiseworthy elements—including its sleek visualization of a tech-powered future in a world that’s rebuilding from near-ruination—can’t prevent the viewer from agreeing with Flynne’s ally, Wilf (Gary Carr), when he remarks that “I keep feeling like I’m missing something obvious.” In the end, just about the only obvious thing about The Peripheral is how badly it wants a sequel. The abrupt conclusion sees Flynne deliberately die in her original timeline so she can “reboot” elsewhere, allowing her the chance to avenge her enemies in the future. And, I guess, ensuring happiness for alt-Flynnes on other timelines? The show cuts off before we see much of that actually happen, instead opting for a post-credits sequence—featuring a bunch of elderly klepts we’ve never met before, threatening villain Lev (JJ Feild) for his involvement in the entire Flynne situation—seemingly engineered to toss one last head-scratcher on the pile.

If The Peripheral does return, it has its work cut out for season two, and maybe with the foundation of season one beneath it, it’ll make for a more enjoyable ride. But is it a ride viewers who lurched through season one will want to take?

The Peripheral season one is now streaming on Prime Video.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


17/25 - The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself's Showrunner Talks Found Family and Love Triangles

Joe Barton attends Sky “Up Next” Arrivals
Image: Eamonn M. McCormack / Stringer (Getty Images)

A few weeks ago, without a lot of fanfare, Netflix dropped one of the most exciting and gritty YA series of 2022: The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself. Adapted from Sally Green’s series of novels that started with Half Bad, the show follows a young witch, Nathan (Jay Lycurgo), as he attempts to escape the clutches of a clan of witches and get his father’s blood before he comes into his powers. He’s joined by his friends Annalise and Gabriel, who both have their own hangups with witches, and he eventually falls in love... with both of them.

I was deeply impressed at how this show adapted source material that was, to put it charitably, challenging in a lot of ways. Full of torture and with a jealousy-driven love triangle, the new show remains true to the brutality of the books, but allows space for the characters to grow and be kind to each other. Joe Barton, the creator-lead writer-showrunner, who previously worked on Giri/Haji for Netflix, sat down with io9 for a chat about his newest show.


Linda Codega, io9: What drew you to Half Bad to begin with? Did you pitch this project? 

Joe Barton: I had done a film called The Ritual with Andy Serkis’ production company Imaginarium. In 2015 or ‘16 they brought the book to me and asked if I was interested in it. Originally we tried to do Half Bad as a feature film, and I can’t remember how far we got with it, but we just couldn’t get it funded. And I had sort of just forgotten about it, to be honest. You just sort of move on. Then I had a show called Giri/Haji on Netflix in 2020, and just as that was coming out, Imaginarium came back and said, “Oh, we want to try and do Half Bad as a TV show, if you’re interested.” They took the first 60 pages of the feature script and sent that to Netflix, who did a full series order pretty quickly, so I just found myself doing it.

io9: Surprise! You’re directing another series at Netflix, Joe, get ready.

Barton: Just like that.

io9: I really responded to this show (despite bouncing off a lot of YA), because the world was cruel and ruthless, but it still made space for these characters to be kind to each other.

Barton: That was always the thing that I felt had the most potential from the source material. In the book as well, the world is so cruel to Nathan and we turned it down in the show quite a bit because he was really tortured in the book. But I sort of liked the idea that we could make a show that was essentially about this kid who’s just been mistreated his whole life and him finding love, essentially. I like the found family trope a lot so I think I’m always slightly drawn to that. In the early days, I just sort of always imagined this show as this road trip adventure with these three slightly damaged characters. And for these three kids, they couldn’t find any place for themselves, but they found each other.

You get these sort of over-the-top children’s stories, like Roald Dahl, where you have these kids who are living in this very cruel and unfriendly world and they have to somehow carve out their own space within it. So that was, for me, the thing that attracted me to the project—being able to do that for Nathan, Annalise, and Gabriel.

A BTS photo of the cast, all of whom I would die for.
Image: Teddy Cavendish | Netflix

io9: What do you think it is about that found family trope that is so engaging and why is it important to this story in particular?

Barton: I think for a lot of people it’s just a lived experience, and quite a powerful one. Even if you’re not in finding your own replacement family, there is still that part of your life where you do sort of replace or add to your existing family. People have to create a family out of nothing. I like it when people carve their own space while finding other people.

With these characters, I wanted to find a way to... it’s going to sound stupid, but I feel very protective of my fictional characters whenever I work on something. In the books Nathan and Gabriel and Annalise have a much more difficult time, and I really grew to like them. So I wanted to write a happier version for them in a way.

io9: How did you go about adapting this series from the original book?

Barton: I don’t think that you could do a direct adaptation of the book because it’s torturous at times. There were things that we took out entirely, like Nathan’s deep connection to nature that manifested in odd ways. [Sally] Green was doing this primal theme about returning to nature and within that, the violence of nature became really extreme. I like the soul of of Half Bad. I like the essence, but there was a lot of stuff around it that I thought would have been incredibly difficult to put on the screen, particularly the violence.

We changed a lot about the witch clans, which are basically the same in the show and have a few more defining traits attached in the book series. But ultimately both clans do awful things, and good people exist in both clans.

io9: I was really impressed by the way that casting Jay [Lycurgo] as Nathan immediately turned a lot of the subtext in the books [about racism and xenophobia] into text.  

Burton: We did try to dial a lot of that subtext back from the book. We saw a lot of different actors for Nathan. But when Jay auditioned, he was just by far the best for that role. We had seen actors of all different backgrounds and ethnicities and he wasn’t cast because of his race at all, he was just an incredibly charismatic actor. And so we almost accidentally found ourself working within that subtext a little more overtly.

We thought to ourselves—okay, now these sort of things that we’d attempted to thread through the plot have become a lot more surface level. But that’s just the fabric of the show now that, and we loved working with that aspect of it. At the end of the day, Jay was cast because we loved him and he was brilliant, and we adapted the text to fit him.

io9: I really hate love triangles in YA, and then Nathan shows up with Annalise and Gabriel, and I just want them all hold hands and go on a nice date.

Barton: The three of them are never that close in the book, which creates a problem when Nathan begins to explore his sexuality with Gabriel. But Nathan being bisexual was one of those things that we wanted to explore more. We thought it could be really interesting that this traditional protagonist hero discovers this side of himself and it’s treated seriously.

And again, as we went along, we just loved all three of them. And I didn’t want to do that angry love triangle where one person is dating two people and the those two people hate each other. I love all three of these characters and I liked this story more when they liked each other, so we decided to do away with some of the jealousy and anger that might typically show up in a teenage love triangle.

Image: Teddy Cavendish | Netflix

io9: The VFX in this show is pretty wild—I’m specifically thinking of Annalise’s decimation power, because yikes.

Barton: Yeah, that stuff is amazing. It was a relatively low budget show. We were up against it in all sorts of ways. The decimation was the sort of centerpiece of this show’s VFX. We had to be careful about when and where we showed magic onscreen; I cannot emphasize enough, we had no money at all on this show. That’s why a lot of the witches are running around holding guns because prop guns are cheaper than, you know, VFX-made magic. 

I remember seeing it for the first time. We were sitting in this small room, because when they do the VFX reviews, what they do is play the the image on a loop, in silence. And this guy was just exploding again, and again, and again on this massive screen behind us as we were talking about it. And you just become slightly nauseous. I mean, there’s only so many times you can watch Security Guard Steve getting flayed open, you know.

io9: Do you have a favorite scene?

Barton: I think my favorite scene is at the end of episode three when the three main characters jump out of the window—that whole sequence, starting when you meet Gabriel for the first time. I think it’s got all the bits of the show that I like the most. There’s humor and there’s romance and there’s some magic and some violence and there’s some mad shit, and that ends with him jumping out the window. And then it culminates with that great song [“I Heard You Want Your Country Back,” by Bob Vylan]. I think those sequences, that first scene in Gabriel’s apartment, sort of encapsulates the whole vibe of the show.

io9: Yeah. It’s like, if you want to know what this show is about, watch these 10 minutes.

Burton: Exactly. And this is the part where Gabriel has just been introduced, because we held him back for quite a long time. And then I think as soon as he enters, it really becomes like the show it wants to be, in a way. An action-adventure-romance. With magic.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The first season of The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself is now streaming on Netflix.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


18/25 - Netflix Cancels The Midnight Club Hours After Creator Moves to Amazon

Image: Netflix

The horrors stalking the terminally ill, teenage patients living at Brightcliffe Hospice can’t compare to the horror of a streaming network scorned. Mere hours after it was announced yesterday that Midnight Club creator Mike Flanagan and his producing partner Trevor Macy would be exiting their deal at Netflix and instead entering a deal with Amazon to create TV content for Prime Video, Netflix announced the horror series would be canceled after its first season.

While it doesn’t seem like a coincidence—seriously, the cancelation came six hours after Flanagan’s Amazon deal—there was never any indication that The Midnight Club, based on the works of prolific YA horror author Christopher Pike, was necessarily going to get a second season (although nor did we have reason to believe it was on the chopping block). And despite horror mega-creator Flanagan’s departure, he still has one more project coming to Netflix—for now—with a limited series retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Production on the series finished filming back in July, so unless Netflix is feeling particularly miffed at Flanagan’s departure, it’ll presumably still air sometime in 2023.

Meanwhile, fans of The Midnight Club might be somewhat sated, as Flagan has revealed what would have happened in season two, along with the answers to season one’s unresolved mysteries here:

I wish more creators would be this thoughtful to their fans!


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


19/25 - Is David Harbour Worried About Typecasting as Santa?


20/25 - Updates From Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, and More

Screenshot: Marvel Studios

Guillermo del Toro waxes lyrical about what he’d do with At the Mountains of Madness. The cast of Dune: The Sisterhood keeps growing. Plus, what’s to come on the series finale of Stargirl, and The Boys casts a mysterious figure. Spoilers, go!

At the Mountains of Madness

During a recent interview with IndieWire, Guillermo del Toro revealed he’s had conversations with Phil Tippet (Mad God) to rework his canceled adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness into a stop-motion animated feature.

I said it would be ideal to do Mountains of Madness as stop-motion. You watch the animation in a more rapturous way than live action. It’s almost a hypnotic act, and the relationship to the story becomes more intimate in that way.


Teen Wolf: The Movie

Paramount+ has released a new poster for Teen Wolf: The Movie. 


Avatar: The Way of Water

The cast and crew of Avatar discuss returning to the franchise thirteen years later in a new Way of Water featurette.

Avatar: The Way of Water | IMAX Featurette

Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania

An uncharacteristically wistful Quantumania trailer from Brazil Comic Con takes a somber look back at the Ant-Man franchise.

The Legacy of Ant-Man | Brazil Comic Con Special Look

New Gods: Yang Jian

The exiled former god Yang Jian carves out a new living as a bounty hunter in the trailer for New Gods: Yang Jian, coming to theaters January 23.

NEW GODS: YANG JIAN | Official English Trailer

The 12 Slays of Christmas

After unwrapping figurines of Full Moon Features’ most popular characters, “a trio of lovely young ladies” swap stories with “a sinister old man” inside his gothic manor in the trailer for The 12 Slays of Christmas.

12 Slays Of Christmas | Official Trailer | Full Moon Features

Dune: The Sisterhood

Deadline reports Mark Strong, Jade Anouka and Chris Mason have joined the cast of Dune: The Sisterhood. Strong has been cast as Emperor Javicco Corrino, “a man from a great line of war-time Emperors, who is called upon to govern the Imperium and manage a fragile peace,” while Anouka has been cast as Sister Theodosia,” a talented and ambitious acolyte who harbors “a dangerous secret about her past.” Mason will play Keiran Atreides, “a Swordmaster to a Great House whose ambition to live up to his family name is disrupted when he forms an unexpected connection to a member of the royal family.”


The Boys

TV Line reports Rosemarie DeWitt has been cast as Hughie’s currently unnamed mother in the fourth season of The Boys. The outlet additionally reports Rob Benedict and Elliot Knight have been cast in undisclosed roles.


The Penguin

The Illuminerdi has word The Penguin is looking to recast the role of Don Salvatore Maroni from the “uncredited extra” alleged to have played the role in The Batman.


The Trenches

Deadline reports FX has ordered The Trenches, a pilot for an animated half-hour from Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods, Daredevil) about “a modern family of monsters hunters.”


Ghosts

TV Line has our first look at Superstore’s Nichole Sakura in the January 5 episode of Ghosts.


Kung Fu

Delta comes for Nicky in the trailer for the February 8 episode of Kung Fu.

Kung Fu 3x09 Promo

Stargirl

Finally, Courtney and the JSA must stop not only the Ultra-Humanite’s brain in Starman’s body, but also Dragon Lord’s brain in the Ultra-Humanite’s body—as well as rescue as Pat from being buried alive— in the trailer for next week’s series’ finale of Stargirl. Don’t miss it!

Stargirl 3x13 Promo “The Reckoning” (Series Finale)

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


21/25 - Disney Will Close Splash Mountain Next Month For Its Princess and the Frog Overhaul

Image: Disney Parks

A new Princess and the Frog attraction is closer to becoming a wish come true at Disney Parks. According to the company, the re-theme will begin with the closure of the flume ride’s current Splash Mountain incarnation on January 23 at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, making way for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. 

Imagineers have shifted from research and design to focus on an immersive experience inspired by the 2009 Disney Princess animated film. We’re ready for it to take us back to New Orleans in a re-imagining starring main character Tiana, who’ll be joined by other Princess and the Frog characters on a new adventure filled with new friends, as revealed in the concept art below!

Image: Disney Parks

The ride’s story takes place during carnival season as Tiana prepares for a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans and visitors riding along on the water log. In this new concept piece shared by Disney Parks, we see jazz-loving Louis the alligator leading a new river band of critters, including an otter, a rabbit, a raccoon, a beaver, a turtle, and others. (Ordinarily I’d be concerned about Louis eating them but with Tiana’s cooking to tempt him, I bet he’ll be good.) In the bayou you’ll hear them play instruments made of natural materials from their environment.

The firefly-filled scene depicts the “thrilling moment you first drop into the bayou and encounter some friends both new and familiar,” according to Disney. It’ll be exciting to hear more music sung by one of my favorite Disney Princess voices, Princess and the Frog star Anika Noni Rose—but a little terrifying if you don’t like rides with drops (it’s me, I don’t like drops). Still, for Tiana, I’ll do anything. Imagineers took special care to make sure the musical aspects of the water ride adventure are authentic to New Orleans; they’ll be inspired by the zydeco rhythm and blues that hails from Louisiana, setting the mood for the next chapter of Tiana’s story and exploring what role the band may play in it.

Walt Disney Imagineers met the team at the historic Dooky Chase’s Restaurant during their research in New Orleans for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Image: Disney Parks

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is set to open in 2024. Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort will be closed starting January 23, 2023, and its counterpart at Disneyland Resort will follow at a later date. For more information check out the Disney Parks Blog.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


22/25 - Everything We Saw in the Trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Image: Lucasfilm

Now that we know a fifth Indiana Jones film actually exists, is coming out, and even has a real title, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Thursday’s reveal of the first trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was chock full of recognizable Indy action with plenty of Nazi punching, cave exploring, and train jumping. But there’s still not much in the way of what exactly this movie is about, who these characters are, or what the heck a Dial of Destiny is.

Is this movie actually about time travel as has been so rampantly speculated? Why does Indy look so many different ages? Let’s look at all the little details we found in the first trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Buggy Chase

Image: Lucasfilm

The trailer begins with a few short shots of Indy either chasing, or being chased, by someone. It looks like Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character, Helena, might be in the back seat of one of the vehicles; we get more of this sequence near the end of the trailer.

As this plays out, along with the rest of the first few shots, we hear Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) talking to Indy. “I miss the desert. I miss the sea. And I miss waking up every morning wondering what wonderful adventure the new day will bring to us,” he says. And with each thing he mentions, we see it.

Indy in the City

Image: Lucasfilm

It’s not 100% clear what city Indy is walking through here, but that is Eldridge Street, a famous street in downtown Manhattan. And with family-owned stores like Rothstein’s and Hoffman’s, that’s a safe bet. He seems to be going to work.

Underwater Diving

Image: Lucasfilm

As Sallah mentions the sea, we see two divers in definitely dated scuba gear, shining a light on some sort of wreckage. That then cuts to this skeleton, which falls apart as eels swim through it. Obviously, people (Indy and Helena?) are searching for something underwater, which we haven’t seen in an Indy movie before.

Is That the Death Star?

Image: Lucasfilm

Professor Jones is in. And while we can’t make out what’s on any of the blackboards, the image he’s projecting is some sort of ancient artifact with big Death Star vibes. Could this be the Dial of Destiny? Or maybe one of the Indiana Jones franchise’s little winks to Star Wars? They happen often.

Exploring With Helena

Image: Lucasfilm

Sallah is still talking and we get two shots of Indy and Helena exploring underground. First, they cross a bridge over some water and then discover this large boulder with a statue in the background. Later, we see Helena wedge a large boulder down, probably from the same sequence. This couldn’t be the cave from the original Raiders of the Lost Ark, could it? Or is that a dial?

Exploding Castle

Image: Lucasfilm

A man in a hood (likely Indy as revealed later) is taken away from a castle that’s exploding. It looks like several Nazis are walking around which suggests this is the flashback opening of the film director James Mangold recently spoke about.

New Adventures

Image: Lucasfilm

We’re gonna cheat here and give you not one but two images in the same slide. That’s because each tells us very little but is utterly gorgeous anyway. The train image seems to connect to something later in the trailer, and because of that, we don’t think that’s Indy at the center of the frame. More likely he’s frame left.

The below image we do think is Indy, riding a motorcycle toward a plane in the rain, and we think it’s from the end of the opening scene. That’s based, again, on what comes later on.

Image: Lucasfilm

Hoarder Jones

Image: Lucasfilm

We’re guessing this is maybe at Indy’s school, but it’s sure chock full of artifacts. It seems Dr. Jones has been very, very busy when he’s not starring in movies.

Sallah!

Image: Lucasfilm

“Those days are come and gone,” Indy says to Sallah at an airport. “Perhaps,” Sallah replies. “Perhaps not.” That sure makes it sound like Indy’s old pal has a lead on some sort of adventure like they did decades before. We’re guessing Sallah doesn’t have a big role here but it seems important.

Light Bright

Image: Lucasfilm

The next section of the trailer plays in a montage with Indy saying the following. “I don’t believe in magic. But a few times in my life I’ve seen things. Things I can’t explain. And I’ve come to believe it’s not so much what you believe, it’s how hard you believe it.” Obviously, he’s referring to all the supernatural and alien things he’s seen in his life, but the question is, is the Dial of Destiny something like that? We’d venture to guess yes.

Train Walking

Image: Lucasfilm

Next are two back-to-back shots on the top of a train. Both of them have Indy in the hat and both are with Toby Jones’ character. We mention that because it seems that the character Indy is chasing is the one on top of the train seen earlier in the trailer. (Unless there are two train scenes, which we doubt.) And though you don’t see his face, we don’t think it’s Mads Mikkelsen’s character, Voller. Later in the trailer, a shot from the same scene shows Indy stealing a man’s gun with his whip, and it does not look like Mikkelsen.

Helena

Image: Lucasfilm

Here’s our first close-up reveal of Helena, who appears earlier in the trailer exploring with Indy. She’s running up to some sort of edge and looking down. We’d guess, looking at Indy.

Undercover Young Indy

Image: Lucasfilm

Your eyes don’t deceive you. That’s Indiana Jones digitally de-aged for the action scene that opens the movie. By his outfit, you can tell that Indy is posing as a Nazi, but has now been captured. Whether this is before or after the exploding building from earlier isn’t clear, but this is definitely Indy from World War II, which is before the bulk of the film.

Pulp Fiction

Image: Lucasfilm

Mads’ character, Voller, opens a case that gives off a very bright light. It’s obviously an object of great value but, it being in a Nazi case, leads us to believe this is from that opening scene. And if Indy movies tell us anything, whatever the object in the opening is, that’s not the focus of the movie. So this MacGuffin that Voller is opening is almost certainly not the Dial of Destiny, but is more likely from the opening flashback.

Antonio!

Image: Lucasfilm

After a very brief shot of a large machine gun firing off the back of a vehicle, we get this brief shot of superstar actor Antonio Banderas. No clue who he is playing but he freaking rules.

Still Young Indy

Image: Lucasfilm

After two super short shots of a plane about to take off and Mikkelsen’s character now in a more formal Nazi uniform, we get this odd shot of Indy. It looks like it’s still young Indy, only how would this scene, possibly on a train, fit in with the Nazi flashback? Are there multiple flashbacks? Why is he shocked? Is Indy... seeing himself? To me, this frame out of all of them, is the one that just really doesn’t fit. Curious.

This Has Got to Be It

Image: Lucasfilm

So that’s definitely a dial of some sort. And in Indy’s monologue, this is the image that immediately follows the phrase “things I can’t explain.” So yeah, this looks like it’s the Dial of Destiny. What the heck does it do? Whose hands are those? We do not know.

More Flashlights

Image: Lucasfilm

Here’s Helena exploring underground. And since she’s got a flashlight, we believe it’s an extension of the scene from earlier in the trailer. This shot is also followed by one of Helena and Indy falling through some water into the ground which, we’re guessing, is how they get into this situation in the first place.

CGI Indy on a Horse

Image: Lucasfilm

First—apologies for the bad image. This is a very fast action shot and this frame, as it’s fading out, is the clearest I could get of Indy himself. Either way, this is about 55 seconds into the trailer and it’s a clearly full CGI version of Harrison Ford in a ticker tape parade. The ticker tape parade, we believe, is for the Moon landing in 1969. And while the rest of the trailer has lots of other shots from this apparently huge action set piece, CGI Indy in this shot is the worst part of the trailer. He just looks bad.

This shot is followed by one of Boyd Holbrook’s character Klaber, who reportedly works for Voller, in a car doing a spin in the middle of the parade, and then Indy being chased by Klaber through the parade. The scene looks super fun. But CGI Indy? Oof.

Iconic

Image: Lucasfilm

Indy picking up his hat and whip? Chills.

This Boulder

Image: Lucasfilm

After a glimpse of a motorcycle flying off a hill (more on that in a second), we get this quick shot of Indy and Helena moving a boulder. Again, it’s probably not the boulder from Raiders, but you obviously are supposed to at least think about that.

Oh Shoot

Image: Lucasfilm

Some more action shots follow, including a big explosion inside a building (we’re guessing from earlier in the trailer) and a Nazi getting smashed in the face, before we see Indy back in that ticker tape parade (without the horse), and Klaber shooting in the air. It frightens Indy and everyone around him.

The signs show that while this is a celebration, it’s also an anti-war protest at the same time. And we think this is probably Klaber at the beginning of the scene, with the horse coming after.

Is This Indy?

Image: Lucasfilm

Toby Jones’ character screams for “Indy” to duck during the train sequence before this very curious shot. It’s a character leaning out of a motorcycle during a fight/chase and we think it’s young Indy. So that could mean undercover Indy somehow escapes, gets on this motorcycle, steals it, and then goes after the plane from earlier in the trailer. That might be accurate, right?

Punch It, Chewie

Image: Lucasfilm

Speaking of planes, come on now. This looks like the Millennium Falcon. What are you doing, Mr. Mangold? Of course, it’s just a similar POV as some characters escapes from somewhere but still. Very cheeky.

Drowning

Image: Lucasfilm

Indy whips away a Nazi’s gun from the train sequence earlier in the trailer, followed by this odd sequence. And, again, apologies for the not-great screenshot, it moves very fast. But someone who is not Indy clearly looks to be stuck or left underwater as someone or something else escapes to the surface. Do Indy and Helena have to kill someone to get whatever they need underwater? If it is them, of course.

More Street Action

Image: Lucasfilm

Another mini-montage of shots that all seem to be from the buggy street chase at the beginning of the trailer. Except this time we clearly see Helena and Indy (who is jumping between vehicles) as well as Klaber.

Oh and you know what, there’s so much packed into about six seconds (including another shot from the unrelated train sequence) we’re going to double up again. This shot rules.

Image: Lucasfilm

Subway Horse Chase

Image: Lucasfilm

That rearview mirror shot might rule, but not as much as Indy jumping his horse into the subway station and then playing chicken with a subway train. Most likely, this is the end of the ticker tape sequence.

The Godfather

Image: Lucasfilm

After the title card, a criminal-looking man asks “Who is this man?” To which Indy replies with the accurate statement that he’s Helena’s godfather. She jokes he’s probably related. And as Indy fends off a room full of bad guys with his whip...

Image: Lucasfilm

Uh oh.

Image: Lucasfilm

...Indy realizes he brought a whip to a gunfight. The whole room unloads on him as he ducks for cover.

End of trailer.

So what did we learn? Frankly, not much. But this movie looks massively exciting whatever the heck it ends up being about.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens June 30, 2023. We’d imagine a second trailer with a bit more story will be out in early spring.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


23/25 - LIGHTSPEED Presents: 'Last Stand of the E. 12th St. Pirates' by L.D. Lewis

Illustration: Grandeduc (Adobe Stock)

io9 is proud to present fiction from LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE. Once a month, we feature a story from LIGHTSPEED’s current issue. This month’s selection is “Last Stand of the E. 12th St. Pirates” by L.D. Lewis. You can read the story below or listen to the podcast on LIGHTSPEED’s website. Enjoy!


Last Stand of the E. 12th St. Pirates

STAND BACK DOORS CLOSING.

Dee heard the musical bing-bong of the departure warning between song transitions in her headphones, and watched as the heads of workers in line ahead of her lolled back in the universal why, God gesture of commuters everywhere.

There was only one freight car down the wall into the Flood District, and it was shared by all bulk service providers who came bearing gifts: maintenance workers, solar installers, grocery and package delivery, and the like. A bing-bong meant another fifteen-minute wait.

Dee thrummed her fingers along the handle of her hand cart and flicked through her manifest for the tenth time. Watertight boxes containing a week’s worth of snail mail for eighteen blocks of residents stacked to her chin. Bobby, her partner, stood behind her with another cart between them. She glanced back to find his mouth was moving quickly, the way it did when he was complaining. He’d only been on this route a little over a year compared to her ten, so his version of morning banter was still fuming over protocol.

Dee shrugged her sympathies and turned back around. She was just happy they made it in before Amazon.

The flooded part of the city stretched into the sea below them. Rooftops presented largely as rows of solar panels less impressive on dreary, overcast days like this. The only living green was on top of the buildings west of 17th—since tree-lined streets could no longer denote monied neighborhoods. The flood waters stopped receding the summer of 2025. There was no great catastrophe. Storm frequency had simply outpaced the plans developed to prevent it. We’d been promised a cinematic fate, drowned by a final wave, inevitable and big enough to name. The reality—that we could be undone by three inches of standing water in places no water should be—had largely registered as an affront and then became an opportunity. Rather than force resettlement on the residents who couldn’t or wouldn’t evacuate, the district had become an experiment in how to maintain infrastructure, a functioning society on top of an encroaching sea.

Dee and Bobby managed to squeeze into the next freight car wedged between a plucky greengrocer from a dry part of the city and an exhausted-looking FedEx driver with his own cart of heavy deliverables. The descent to the commercial docks was quick, accompanied by a series of pneumatic hisses and pleasant AI-voiced reminders to check sidearms for functionality and report any security concerns to the dock manager.

DOORS OPENING. STEP BACK TO ALLOW USERS TO EXIT BEFORE BOARDING.

The docks buzzed as personnel loaded and unloaded small company cargo vessels. Chatter mingled while Dee and Bobby carved a path to their slip where a pair of federal-blue USPS boats were anchored. Dee climbed aboard and lowered the ramp for Bobby to load their cargo. He was a burly young man with a neat beard and a joke for every occasion. Dee regarded him mostly as a nephew who played too much, but she was always happy to let him do the lifting while she strapped everything down.

“Morning, Andi,” Bobby called behind her.

Dee turned from her tangle of 550 cord to see a stern-looking woman approaching the slip in a salt-spattered windbreaker and glasses it must have been impossible to actually see out of. She was the dock manager and checked manifest paperwork for items requiring insurance. Too many and the delivery team would need added manpower for secured transport.

“It is that,” Andi replied, punching the screen of her tablet. “Any precious cargo?”

“Packages all standard.” Dee grunted, climbing back over the cases of mail to greet her on the dock.

“Anything going up past 17th?” Andi asked.

“Always.”

“Might want to get that done first.”

Dee was about to ask why when a helicopter passed loudly overhead. Andi pointed up at it.

“New builds getting shipments today.”

Shit, Dee thought. It was her turn to be exasperated. “Amazon?”

“Mm-hmm. They’re not playing with the pirates this time either. I’d clear out before dark. Hardware check.”

Bobby shifted his posture to point to the pistol holstered on his hip. The thing made Dee itch.

“What does that mean? ‘They’re not playing with the pirates this time?’” Dee asked.

“The Fed’s done letting any old thing happen here. They’re trying to bring in new money to keep the program going, so if an opportunity presents itself to clean up, private security’s got the green light to do it. There’s a briefing about it Monday. Check your docket.” Andi gave her a pointed look that said they’d been warned and handed Dee a stylus to sign the tablet before taking off.

Dee chewed her lip, watching boats drift from their moors into the lapping waters of South Street. She’d lived here once, and working her route was a lot like coming back home. She knew these people. And she knew the pirates. No one had cared about theft when this place was the new wild west, when laws regarding rights and property and enforcement were fluid while the new systems were put in place. She hated the way the luxury new builds were taking priority over the original residents, the way new money brought new surveillance and new penalties for people who couldn’t afford to pay them. If they could afford that, they could have afforded to leave.

Well, Dee thought, same as it ever was.

“We doing the west end first, then?” Bobby interrupted her thoughts.

“No, we’ve got people’s medications and stuff here that can’t wait. We’ll just be quick about it.” She paused in her preparations to take stock of Bobby relaxing against the side of the boat, thumbs hooked in his belt loops like a lazy cop absently drawing attention to his sidearm.

“Keep your hand off that thing,” she told him. “You’re not shooting anybody over here. You deliver the damn mail.”

Bobby chuckled. “Hey, if it comes down to me or them—”

“It’ll be you if I have to repeat myself.” Dee snapped back.

“Alright, Miss Lady, calm down.” He raised his hands in surrender but the impish smirk was still there. Dee threatened to kill him at least once a week but it was usually after lunch.

“I am calm. Just don’t make me toss your big behind overboard. I know you can’t swim,” Dee replied, chuckling at the visual in her mind as she started the engine.

“Shit, I can dog-paddle.” He winked.

Dee barked her laughter this time as Bobby nudged them away from the dock. She nodded at the captain of a bright lime grocery-bearing Shipt boat drifting by ahead of them as they cleared the block.


“Leave and go where?” June Watterson scoffed. She was one of the original residents of the Flood District, here through every inch of the transformation because her aging mother wouldn’t leave. Their third-story apartment was now effectively the ground floor. She stood in the doorway, dark skin illuminated by LEDs in the mesh-grated walkway that served as a sidewalk. They had the same conversation every time Dee stopped by. Things had gotten better but would inevitably get worse. Either way, when it came to evacuating, you’d have to have somewhere to go first.

“You know I don’t know,” Dee always responded, handing over the month’s bills and a carton of medications.

“Did you notice air traffic is picking up here?”

“Saw a chopper earlier. Dock manager said something about increased security coming in.”

“About time. I—”

“What you mean ‘about time?’” The elder Mrs. Watterson called angrily from inside. “You know they’re not coming to be any help to us. All they’re coming to do is harass these kids.”

June rolled her eyes and Dee tried not to laugh.

“How are you doing, Mrs. Watterson?” she called, glimpsing the small woman shucking newly delivered peas at their dining room table.

“I’m fine, baby, how are you? They doing things the same way on the other side of the wall?” Mrs. Watterson replied, much of the venom gone out of her tone.

“Nothing’s changed.” Dee replied.

“Nothing ever does.” Mrs. Watterson said.

Dee checked her watch and glanced at Bobby down in the boat, tapping away at his phone screen. It was nearing noon and they were moving a little slower than she’d hoped.

“Ladies, I have to get going. We’re supposed to clear out by nightfall,” she said.

“Take care, baby. We’ll see you next week,” Mrs. Watterson called.

Dee hesitated before taking on a conspiratorial tone as she turned back to June. “Hey I don’t know if Jay’s been around lately but… the security that’s coming in? They’re coming for pirates. There’s an Amazon shipment coming in tonight on the west side and they’re ready if he hits it.”

June’s lips tightened and alarm sparked briefly in her eyes before sputtering out into something like resignation. Then she nodded. Jay was her nephew. Dee had known him as a child, but he’d come of age on the low seas of the Flood District. With no streets to run and minimal resources to stay idle hands, he’d made quite a name for himself as the 12th Street Robin Hood.

“That boy…” June sighed. “I’ll make some calls. But you’ll probably see him out there before we do.”

“I’ll tell him to come home if I do.”

Dee gave her a quick hug before moving on down the block, pulling up her hood as a steady rain began to fall. The buildings were shorter, their first two stories hidden beneath murky water crusted with neon algal blooms. Retractable bridges connected buildings across street-canals, ready to be taken up a level should the water rise again. The streets were no wider now than they had been when cars used them, and it was a careful dance trying to navigate them all at the same time. Bobby followed beneath her in the boat.

Between the gentle rain and the lighted pathways, the sounds and scents of small but happy homes, this place on the edge of the world could be quaint. If only it could last.

She stepped into an apartment building near the top of 14th Street and knocked on a Mr. Carver’s door. She once lived in the two-story building next door but it was gone. She’d watched over the years as the water line crept up and swallowed it. Even the rooftop now disappeared beneath the vibrating surface of the water.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Carver,” she said cheerily when he opened the door. A wave of lemon and freshly worked timber followed behind him.

“Miss Dee! I could hardly tell it’s been a week already,” he said, rolling his wheelchair backward so she had space to put his packages in the hallway. The flat was an open, sprawling space with broad windows that once might have fetched a pretty penny. Music radiated from somewhere within and a row of handsome wooden chairs he’d built himself lined one of the walls.

“Does seem like time’s speeding up, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, though. You remember that big old oak out back?” he asked.

“Mm-hmm.”

“I don’t think I ever had much use for clocks but I could tell time of day by that thing’s shadows.” He said wistfully, gazing out of one of the windows where there was now only an expanse of gray water. “I miss it. I miss trees.”

“There’s still trees on the dry side. You thought about moving over? I have a friend who could get you a good deal on workshop space.”

“Far enough away from the wall? You know it’s only a matter of time before that side looks like this side. I can’t afford to keep moving.”

Out in the hallway, music blared out of an open door a moment before being muffled again behind it. Dee leaned back out of the doorway to squint at a young man headed toward the exit.

“Jay?” she called. He turned around.

“Mr. Carver, I have to head out, but I’ll see you next week, okay?” she said quickly.

“Alright now, be safe.” Mr. Carver waved her off and she closed his door behind her.

“What’s up Miss Dee?” Jay smiled broadly and hugged her. He’d been a short, bobble-headed eight year-old once, but had grown into a handsome, athletic young man with an easy confidence and a boisterous intelligence. She could see him as a leader of a great many things in another time and place. Here, though, he was just a pirate.

“Nothing at all. You still being a menace?” Dee asked him.

“Never that,” he replied modestly, pulling out his phone and responding to messages buzzing on it.

Dee studied him. “I just saw June and your grandma. They haven’t seen you lately?”

“Nah, I’ve been busy. But I’ll make sure I drop by soon so they don’t worry.”

“Busy with what? Are you still taking things that don’t belong to you?”

Jay hesitated before putting his phone away, taking on the relaxed posture of someone who’d received more than a few lectures he was prepared to stand and take respectfully, even if he didn’t intend to absorb any of it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Jay, they’re protecting that shipment tonight. This… game you’ve been playing all these years, they’re ending it now. Cops are paying attention. Private security is paying attention. What you’re doing is bad for business and they will take you down for it. That’s how the story always goes. Think about your future.”

“The future?” Jay scoffed. “Where?”

Dee sighed. He was right. There was no using the future against kids these days. Not when everything seemed to be winding down.

“You’re right, that was stupid. I meant—”

“Miss Dee, that wall has everybody thinking what’s going on over here won’t come for them.” He pointed a suddenly angry finger toward the entrance and the wall beyond it. “But it will. That’s the only future. Anybody moving here by choice has missed the point. The only game on this side of town is taking what you can get and whatever money you can get for it to get yourself and your people as far away from the edge of the world as possible.”

“If you try and take that shipment tonight, there’s a high chance you and all your ‘people’ will die. Violently. What would that do to June?” Dee pleaded.

He shook his head and Dee felt strangely like she’d let him down. “Like I said, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’ll bet.” She didn’t know what else she could say.

His phone buzzed again and his attention diverted as he typed his responses. Dee didn’t doubt it was about the night’s plans.

“Look, I gotta go,” he said, backing away toward the door. “I’ll tell Aunt June I’ll stop by next week. You should come for dinner or something.”

“I… be safe,” she blurted. He nodded and left at a jog, the door banging closed behind him.


17th Street was a garden. The buildings here were covered in aquatic climbing vines and the walkways were trimmed with flowering plants accented by exterior lumination suggesting this place existed by design, not catastrophe. The sun had only just gone down when Dee started her rounds here. She found the doors painted a bright white or cheery pastel, and the residents enjoying the outdoor space on their fenced-in rooftops. Boat slips attached to the backs of residences were filled with modest vessels that seemed luxurious compared to the relatively stationary nature of the rest of the district.

Bobby was noticeably antsy where he waited in the boat, his head more on a swivel now and less on his phone. They’d passed many of the other cargo vessels headed back to the docks. Dee knew no one here personally, and made quick work of slipping mail through slots or leaving packages on doorsteps as she made her way up the block. She couldn’t stop herself from peering into the dark for signs of Jay when a foghorn announced the Amazon vessel being loaded in the docks. She hated when they did that. It meant everyone knew when a massive, expensive shipment was arriving and served as a warning to clear the canals of traffic so the damn thing could fit.

Dee’s heart pounded as the noise of air traffic picked up in the dark overhead. The buzzes were small and clipped and marked by blinking red light. Surveillance drones. But she remembered the helicopter and couldn’t stop herself imagining all the things it was intended for that were worse than watching.

“We need to roll,” Bobby called, watching the skies himself.

“Yeah, you’re not wrong,” Dee called back. She was scanning a label on a package she was leaving when the door opened and she nearly startled herself backward over the walkway railing.

“Oh sorry,” the man said with a professional sort of smile. He looked at the package on the ground and nudged it inside with his foot. “Is this it? I was expecting more.”

“If it’s Amazon, it’s on its way,” Dee said quickly and tried to move on.

“Do you always deliver mail this late? I thought I was going to have to confront someone when I opened—”

“Confront how?” Dee snapped. She knew what confront meant. It always meant the same thing when some people said it.

She must have made a face because the man seemed to think better of the conversation and backed into his home. “No worries. Have a good night.”

Dee finished the block but noticed her hands were shaking by the time she reached the end. She could see the future of this place, of that man and a confrontation with a boy like Jay or any of her other friends who lived here. The way it would end. The way it always did because nothing ever changed.

Bobby stared her down as she lowered herself back into the boat. He was concerned about her, about this night, but wouldn’t press leaving any more than he already had without her say-so.

“Let’s head back. Last street will have to get done tomorrow,” she said.

“Won’t hear me complaining. You want me to drive?”

“I got it,” she insisted and turned over the engine just as the drone of a helicopter began to grow louder. They watched as a spotlight started its dance over the rooftops and canals, looking for any sign of trouble. Bobby switched on the blue light that would indicate they were a federal vessel and not pirates or people with a general disdain for curfews. Dee steered them through the dark water at a clip bordering recklessness, trying to stay off the most direct route to the west side so as not to interfere with the Amazon ship’s path. It meant more side streets and more sharp, dark turns. Part of her hoped it also meant she could stumble upon Jay and his crew in time to block them.

And then it happened. 14th and Wax. Dee nearly sent the boat barreling into a matte-black behemoth emerging stealthily from an alleyway. She drilled into reverse long enough to neutralize her momentum and then shuddered into a drift at fifty feet.

“Dee, what are you doing?” Bobby hissed behind her. Dee didn’t answer, but turned their spotlight onto the black boat where a dozen masks and pairs of shining eyes had started appearing over the bow. She couldn’t make out which one was Jay.

“Jay, where are you?” She called loudly over the rush of blood in her ears, the violent drone of the helicopter terrifyingly close behind them. “Stop this! Go home, all of you.”

“You first, lady,” a boy’s voice replied.

“You don’t understand. This is not like the other nights. There are people… People have been authorized to kill you if you rob that ship. Jay, please.”

A low whistle went out over the boat and guns began to appear over the bow, brandished casually and slung over their slender shoulders.

“Ain’t the only ones with guns, Dee,” said Jay’s voice as he approached the front. It was low and serious, terrifying in its authority. If she couldn’t convince him alone, what chance did she have to convince him in front of his friends?

Dee heard the clicking off of the safety switch on Bobby’s gun behind her and spun.

Bobby stand the fuck down! They’re kids!”

Bobby seethed and then reluctantly obeyed. “Dee, they’re going to shoot us or plow through us. You can’t save what don’t want to be saved,” he growled.

Over their shoulders, the helicopter was getting closer, clearing the way ahead of the ship. It would be upon them in a matter of minutes. Dee blew panicked breaths from burning cheeks and looked around them for another answer, but none presented itself.

“What...what can I say to make this stop?” she pleaded to the masked pirates. “It isn’t fair and I’m sorry. They should care more about you. They always should have. But dying here tonight doesn’t prove anything except… they don’t. There’s no message you can send that these people will hear if you’re sending it with their… bought bullshit in your hands. It’s a bad world. It never got to be as great as it could have been but there’s still so much I…”

Dee turned around with tears scorching her cheeks. People were standing on the walkways, illuminated in their open doors and looking on in fear.

“Look, you won’t even survive to pawn the crap, okay?” Bobby yelled. “Maybe you find another way out. Maybe you go back to piracy when you have a better plan. But don’t do this tonight. Not like this.”

“Go home to your families and figure something else out. It’s what we’ve always done. There’s always been another way,” Dee said, leaving the last word to the sea breeze and chopping blades of the helicopter.

The pirates seemed to confer with one another wordlessly for a while but Jay never turned his gaze from hers.

“Stand dow—” he finally grunted, but the blaring of a ship’s horn drowned him out. The Amazon ship had turned the corner at the top of the street, bathing them all in harsh, white light. The helicopter brought up the rear and zoomed ahead in a hover directly over Dee’s boat, spotlight shining on the pirate decks.

They’d barely had time to put down their weapons.

“Nononononono…” Dee stammered, waving her arms in a gesture of cease-fire. She heard Jay’s frantic shouts of “clear the deck!” behind her as she reached for the mic to her loudspeaker.

“You are in violation of—” The helicopter blared.

“There’s no trouble here! No trouble!” Dee screeched into her own microphone. “These are just kids. They’re clearing out right now. Stand down.”

“You are in violation of—”

STAND DOWN!” Dee bellowed.

“—We will be forced to open fire…”

“Get out of there!” Bobby screamed. Dee could barely see for staring into the lights as long as she had. But the ship’s horn roared again as it continued its approach, threatening to crush their boat. Who knew if the kids had managed to abandon ship. Around her, outraged cries rang out from the neighbors bearing witness, and the helicopter was still threatening to open fire.

“You have ten seconds to comply,” the helicopter commanded.

Of all the ways to die at the edge of the world, Dee thought. Her mind reeled as she squinted toward the pirate ship to see the kids still scrambling. There was nowhere for them to go that wasn’t into the narrow strips of water or leaping onto nearby rooftops. Someone’s shirt was strung from an antenna as a makeshift white flag. She and Bobby exchanged desperate looks that said neither of them knew what to do, which way to flee, if they were even targets or if they’d be leaving the kids to their fate.

“Eight...”

It was supposed to be a wave.

“Five…”

We were supposed to drown or freeze to death.

“Three…”

The chaos of the end was supposed to be different.

“Two…”

Why did nothing ever change?

“One.”


About the Author

L.D. Lewis is an editor, publisher, and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated writer of speculative fiction. She serves as a founding creator and Project Manager for the World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winning FIYAH Literary Magazine. She also serves as the founding Director of FIYAHCON, Researcher for the (also award-winning) LeVar Burton Reads podcast, and pays the bills as the Awards Manager for the Lambda Literary Foundation. She frequently bothers the publishing industry by authoring studies about the treatment and experiences of racially/ethnically marginalized authors in speculative literature. She is the author of A Ruin of Shadows (Dancing Star Press, 2018) and her published short fiction and poetry include appearances in FIYAH, PodCastle, Strange Horizons, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, Lightspeed, and Neon Hemlock, among others. She lives in Georgia, on perpetual deadline, with her coffee habit and an impressive LEGO build collection. Tweet her @ellethevillain.


Please visit LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE to read more great science fiction and fantasy. This story first appeared in the December 2022 issue, which also features work by P H Lee, Rati Mehrotra, Alex Irvine, Nadine Tomlinson, Rich Larson, Aimee Ogden, Stewart C. Baker, and more. You can wait for this month’s contents to be serialized online, or you can buy the whole issue right now in convenient ebook format for just $3.99, or subscribe to the ebook edition via the link below.

Lightspeed Magazine (Subscription)


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


24/25 - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's First Trailer Is Big on Rocket

Gif: Marvel Studios

To get to the end, you must go back to the beginning. That’s what writer-director James Gunn has been saying about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the final film in his time with the Marvel heroes, which will finally reveal where and how Rocket Raccoon came to be.

You get a little of that in this first trailer for the May 5 release, which brings back all the original stars, and a few new ones too. Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, and Sean Gunn make up the current Guardians (along with the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, of course). And after dying, traveling back through time, and now once again existing, Zoe Saldaña is back as well. Will Poulter joins the story as the much-anticipated Adam Warlock, Maria Bakalova is the voice of Cosmo, and, well, check out the trailer to see the rest.

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 | Official Trailer

Next year will serve fans a sandwich of theatrical MCU films and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the meat. It starts with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania on February 17, moves on to Guardians 3 in May, and then The Marvels on July 28. All three should be fun but you just look at Guardians, especially after this trailer, as something special. Gunn completing his trilogy of films, really putting his stamp on not just these characters, but the MCU. The fact it’s going to bring together Rocket’s story while also introducing Adam Warlock, leaving more space for the universe to go. There’s just so much potential here. We’re very excited, what about you?

Written and directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will kick off the summer movie season on May 5, 2023.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


25/25 - Everything We Know About Anne Rice's Immortal Universe

Image: AMC | Alfonso Bresciani

The Immortal Universe at a Glance

This article was originally published on 12/1/2022; it will be updated to reflect new information when it is released. 


What is the Immortal Universe?

Anne Rice’s Immortal Universe is what AMC is calling its adaptation of Anne Rice’s various novels—specifically her Vampire Chronicles series and her witch-centric series Lives of the Mayfair Witches. They are technically two separate entities within Anne Rice’s oeuvre, but the books have a lot of crossover between characters. Just to streamline everything, AMC is combining these two series and putting them under the umbrella of the Immortal Universe.

The Anne Rice catalog AMC acquired in 2020 includes The Vampire Chronicles Series: Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch The Devil, The Vampire Armand, Pandora, Vittorio the Vampire, Blood and Gold, Prince Lestat, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, and Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat; The Lives of the Mayfair Witches Trilogy: The Witching Hour, Lasher, and Taltos; and The Vampire Chronicles/The Lives of the Mayfair Witches Crossover Novels: Merrick, Blackwood Farm, and Blood Canticle.

What is AMC’s Interview With the Vampire about?

Interview With the Vampire follows vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) as he recalls his life story to reporter Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian), which includes his gothic romance with vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and his relationship with child vampire Claudia de Pointe du Lac (Bailey Bass). It takes place in 2022, in Dubai, as Louis recounts his time in New Orleans with Lestat during the early 1900s. There’s also Louis’ mysterious attendant, Rashid (Assad Zaman)...

Who’s involved in Interview With the Vampire?

Rolin Jones (Perry Mason, Friday Night Lights) is the creator, showrunner and an executive producer for Interview. Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Halt and Catch Fire, Rectify), is also an executive producer. Anne Rice, before her death in late 2021, and her son Christopher Rice are non-writing executive producers.

Why Are Vampires Associated With Queerness?

The season one writers were mostly playwrights; they included Coline Abert, Eleanor Burgess, Jonathan Ceniceroz, David B. Harris, Hannah Moscovitch, and Ben Philippe. The score was by Daniel Hart, who also did the music for The Green Knight. Mara LePere-Schloop was the production designer and Carol Cutshall designed the costumes.

Where can I watch Interview With the Vampire?

The first season is avaialble to stream on AMC+.


How is the television show different from the 1994 movie, Interview With the Vampire?

The big difference is Louis’ timeline and history has been changed. The movie is much closer to the book and is a more direct adaptation. In the movie, Louis has an interview with an unnamed journalist addressed only as “the boy” in 1973. He gives out his life story, starting as his time as a plantation owner in early 1800s Louisiana, with all the trappings of landed Southern gentry, including owning slaves. He and Lestat are not explicitly involved in a romantic relationship, but the relationship is obsessive and borders on the romantic at times. Claudia is also much younger; she’s around 7-10 in the movie, whereas in the books she was five when she was turned.

The series follows the same emotional beats and plot line of the film, but on the AMC show, Louis is a Black man in early 1900s New Orleans and the series focuses on his struggles with racism and bigotry in the city. He and Lestat are also shown to be in a romantic relationship, and Louis explicitly describes himself as a gay man. Daniel Molloy, who was a minor character in the book and the film, is now a more present, active character. Claudia has been aged up to 14, and her story focuses on the relentlessness of appearing to be a young teenager forever.

What about Queen of the Damned? (You know, the one with Aaliyah?)

There has been no announcement yet about adapting Queen of the Damned, but a lot of the lore and characterization of Lestat in the Queen of the Damned novel made its way into Interview With the Vampire. AMC might choose to do limited series of each book, or it could continue Interview With the Vampire through the rest of the Vampire Chronicles novels, just to keep everything in one place, while also utilizing the most famous of the books for brand recognition. But this is AMC’s Immortal Universe, and the network could go either way.


Did io9 do episode recaps for Interview With the Vampire?

Sure did!

Favorite Vampires in Media | Jacob Anderson & Sam Reid

When is Interview With the Vampire’s second season coming out?

Probably in late 2023, but this is just a guess. There’s been no announcement and as of December 2022, the writers are working on the scripts, so it is in early stages of development.


When is Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches coming out?

The eight-episode season will kick off on Sunday, January 8. This is the same programming slot previously occupied by Interview With the Vampire, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead. There’s also a trailer for the series! Check it out below.

ANNE RICE’S MAYFAIR WITCHES Trailer (2023) Alexandra Daddario, Series

What’s the plot of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches?

The official synopsis reads that Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches “follows a neurosurgeon who discovers that she is the unlikely heir to a family of witches. She must contend with a sinister presence that has haunted her family for generations.”

The show is based on the trilogy of novels by Anne Rice, which are referred to as the Lives of the Mayfair Witches. The three books include The Witching Hour, Lasher, and Taltos.

Who’s involved in The Mayfair Witches?

The show is executive produced by Mark Johnson. Esta Spaulding (Masters of Sex, On Becoming a God in Central Florida) and Michelle Ashford (Masters of Sex, The Pacific, John Adams) are both on as writers and executive producers of the series and co-showrunners. Cast members include Alexandra Daddario as the main character Rowan Fielding, Jack Huston as Lasher, Tongayi Chirisa as Ciprien, and Harry Hamlin as Cortland Mayfair.

Where can I watch The Mayfair Witches?

The episodes will be available to stream on AMC+, and it will air weekly on Sunday nights on AMC, starting January 8.

What else is coming out?

So glad you asked!! From an April 6 press release, we are getting The Night Island and Obsessed With the Vampire. These are being released as digital originals via the Content Room, and we don’t have much more information other than the below, though we’ll be updating this post as we learn more.

Also part of the Anne Rice universe, The Night Island is a digital original about an exclusive resort like no other, open only from sunset to sunrise, catering to an exclusive clientele of vampires and mortals, with strict rules in place that still can’t prevent each night from turning into a near disaster. Based on elements within Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned, this will be produced with Mark Johnson (who is overseeing development of the entire Anne Rice universe) and his company Gran Via.

As AMC prepares to premiere Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampireas its next franchise and universe later this year, Obsessed with the Vampire is a digital post-show companion for the scripted series that offers a one-of-a-kind episode discussion with superfan insights around looks, locales, design and all things vampire culture. The series will launch with Weekly Obsessions— a social content feature and companion one-of-a-kind curated late-night shop, only open during vampire hours—and will culminate in an end of the first season Obsessed with the Vampire special, unpacking every obsession worthy moment of the epic first season.

Will AMC actually make all of the Vampire Chronicles books?

Who knows! The network certainly has grand ambitions. It’s a good possibility it will bring parts of various Vampire Chronicles novels into every Interview With the Vampire season.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


News

Slashdot

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1/15 - Apple Makes Plans to Move Production Out of China

The Wall Street Journal reports: In recent weeks, Apple Inc. has accelerated plans to shift some of its production outside China, long the dominant country in the supply chain that built the world's most valuable company, say people involved in the discussions. It is telling suppliers to plan more actively for assembling Apple products elsewhere in Asia, particularly India and Vietnam, they say, and looking to reduce dependence on Taiwanese assemblers led by Foxconn Technology Group. Turmoil at a place called iPhone City helped propel Apple's shift. At the giant city-within-a-city in Zhengzhou, China, as many as 300,000 workers work at a factory run by Foxconn to make iPhones and other Apple products. At one point, it alone made about 85% of the Pro lineup of iPhones, according to market-research firm Counterpoint Research. The Zhengzhou factory was convulsed in late November by violent protests.... Coming after a year of events that weakened China's status as a stable manufacturing center, the upheaval means Apple no longer feels comfortable having so much of its business tied up in one place, according to analysts and people in the Apple supply chain.... One response, say the people involved in Apple's supply chain, is to draw from a bigger pool of assemblers — even if those companies are themselves based in China. Two Chinese companies that are in line to get more Apple business, they say, are Luxshare Precision Industry Co. and Wingtech Technology Co.... Apple's longer-term goal is to ship 40% to 45% of iPhones from India, compared with a single-digit percentage currently, according to Ming-chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities who follows the supply chain. Suppliers say Vietnam is expected to shoulder more of the manufacturing for other Apple products such as AirPods, smartwatches and laptops. For now, consumers doing Christmas shopping are stuck with some of the longest wait timesfor high-end iPhones in the product's 15-year history, stretching until after Christmas.... Accounts vary about how many workers are missing from the Zhengzhou factory, with estimates ranging from the thousands to the tens of thousands. Mr. Kuo said it was running at only about 20% capacity in November, a figure expected to improve to 30% to 40% in December. Foxconn says it accounted for 3.9% of China's exports in 2021, the Journal points out. Yet "A survey by the U.S.-China Business Council this year found American companies' confidence in China has fallen to a record low, with about a quarter of respondents saying they have at least temporarily moved parts of their supply chain out of China over the past year."

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2/15 - Graduate Students Analyze, Crack, and Remove Under-Desk Surveillance Devices

"Graduate students at Northeastern University were able to organize and beat back an attempt at introducing invasive surveillance devices that were quietly placed under desks at their school," reports Motherboard: Early in October, Senior Vice Provost David Luzzi installed motion sensors under all the desks at the school's Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Complex (ISEC), a facility used by graduate students and home to the "Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute" which studies surveillance. These sensors were installed at night — without student knowledge or consent — and when pressed for an explanation, students were told this was part of a study on "desk usage," according to a blog post by Max von Hippel, a Privacy Institute PhD candidate who wrote about the situation for the Tech Workers Coalition's newsletter.... Students began to raise concerns about the sensors, and an email was sent out by Luzzi attempting to address issues raised by students.... Luzzi wrote, the university had deployed "a Spaceti occupancy monitoring system" that would use heat sensors at groin level to "aggregate data by subzones to generate when a desk is occupied or not." Luzzi added that the data would be anonymized, aggregated to look at "themes" and not individual time at assigned desks, not be used in evaluations, and not shared with any supervisors of the students. Following that email, an impromptu listening session was held in the ISEC. At this first listening session, Luzzi asked that grad student attendees "trust the university since you trust them to give you a degree...." After that, the students at the Privacy Institute, which specialize in studying surveillance and reversing its harm, started removing the sensors, hacking into them, and working on an open source guide so other students could do the same. Luzzi had claimed the devices were secure and the data encrypted, but Privacy Institute students learned they were relatively insecure and unencrypted.... After hacking the devices, students wrote an open letter to Luzzi and university president Joseph E. Aoun asking for the sensors to be removed because they were intimidating, part of a poorly conceived study, and deployed without IRB approval even though human subjects were at the center of the so-called study. von Hippel notes that many members of the computer science department were also in a union, and thus networked together for a quick mass response. Motherboard writes that the controversy ultimately culminated with another listening session in which Luzzi "struggles to quell concerns that the study is invasive, poorly planned, costly, and likely unethical." "Afterwards, von Hippel took to Twitter and shares what becomes a semi-viral thread documenting the entire timeline of events from the secret installation of the sensors to the listening session occurring that day. Hours later, the sensors are removed..."

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3/15 - What is ChatGPT, the AI Chatbot That's Taking The Internet By Storm

A reader submits a report: Artificial Intelligence (AI) research company OpenAI on Wednesday announced ChatGPT, a prototype dialogue-based AI chatbot capable of understanding natural language and responding in natural language. It has since taken the internet by storm, with people marvelling at how intelligent the AI-powered bot sounds. Some even called it a replacement for Google, since it's capable of giving solutions to complex problems directly," almost like a personal know-all teacher. "We've trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests," OpenAI wrote on its announcement page for ChatGPT. ChatGPT is based on GPT-3.5, a language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. However, while the older GPT-3 model only took text prompts and tried to continue on that with its own generated text, ChatGPT is more engaging. It's much better at generating detailed text and can even come up with poems. Another unique characteristic is memory. The bot can remember earlier comments in a conversation and recount them to the user. ChatGPT wrote a poem about Slashdot. Try ChatGPT for yourself here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


4/15 - Trailers Released for 2023 First-Person Shooter 'Starship Troopers: Extermination'

You can read the news in Military Times magazine. "Coming just after the 25th anniversary of the release of the cult classic Starship Troopers (November 1997), Offworld Industries and Sony Pictures Consumer Projects are bringing the fight against the Arachnids to a computer near you." An official announcement and gameplay teaser were released for the upcoming game this week. "Starship Troopers: Extermination is a co-op FPS that puts you on the far-off front lines of an all-out battle against the Bugs!" explains its page on Steam. "Squad up, grab your rifle, and do your part as an elite Deep Space Vanguard Trooper set to take back planets claimed by the Arachnid threat!" The page says an "Early Access" launch is planned for 2023: In Starship Troopers: Extermination, our vision is to show a galactic war between the Federation and the Arachnid Empire. After our initial launch and throughout the course of Early Access development, players will get to engage with exciting new updates that expand upon the in-game universe, and provide feedback through the Steam Community Hub that our developers can take into consideration.... [W]e will be sharing an exciting and robust roadmap with content already planned for 2023. Throughout Early Access we will provide players with more weapons, an updated class leveling system as well as progression achievements and unlockable skins for both weapons and armor. Additionally we will be adding vehicles special call in attacks including massive Orbital Strikes to help during missions. On the enemy side we will be adding more bugs, flying enemies, and boss battles that require complex player coordination to accomplish. As we progress in development, our goal is to then begin ongoing planetary battles where the player can explore new items and enemies introduced in previous updates as an epic war breaks out. This transition adds a new world as we head to the completion of Early Access. The intent throughout Early Access is to convey that this part of our development cycle is the beginning of the war and the battle will only increase in complexity and ferocity as we move to full release. Starship Troopers: Extermination is expected to be in Early Access for approximately 1 year. The full version of Starship Troopers: Extermination will span multiple worlds to liberate them from the Arachnid Threat. This will include additional weapons, enemies types, class progression upgrades, community events, and encounters. The player will have a more diverse roster of customization options allowing them to tailor their Troopers to fit their playstyle and experience." Starship Troopers: Extermination will launch with a massive map on Planet Valaka. Up to twelve players can team up to complete side and main missions before escaping to the extraction zone. We'll have more to share closer to the Early Access launch in 2023! We plan to work closely with the community on Steam's Community Hub and in the official Starship Troopers: Extermination Discord as we add features, tune gameplay, and develop new content. "Starship Troopers is in a league of its own when it comes to 90s science fiction films," writes Boing Boing's Devin Nealy. "Despite serving as an adaptation of the Robert A. Heinlein book, Starship Troopers forges a unique identity through its striking visuals and deft use of satire." Noting the two "pretty weak" straight-to-video sequels (and two more CGI-animated films), Nealy argues that "Until the franchise finds a creative team that can properly capture the essence of the first film, a video game might be the best option for the series."

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5/15 - Physicists Use Google's Quantum Computer to Create Holographic Wormhole Between Black Holes

"In an experiment that ticks most of the mystery boxes in modern physics, a group of researchers announced Wednesday that they had simulated a pair of black holes in a quantum computer," reports the New York Times [alternate URL here. But in addition, the researchers also sent a message between their two black holes, the Times reports, "through a shortcut in space-time called a wormhole. "Physicists described the achievement as another small step in the effort to understand the relation between gravity, which shapes the universe, and quantum mechanics, which governs the subatomic realm of particles.... Quanta magazine reports: The wormhole emerged like a hologram out of quantum bits of information, or "qubits," stored in tiny superconducting circuits. By manipulating the qubits, the physicists then sent information through the wormhole, they reported Wednesday in the journal Nature. The team, led by Maria Spiropulu of the California Institute of Technology, implemented the novel "wormhole teleportation protocol" using Google's quantum computer, a device called Sycamore housed at Google Quantum AI in Santa Barbara, California. With this first-of-its-kind "quantum gravity experiment on a chip," as Spiropulu described it, she and her team beat a competing group of physicists who aim to do wormhole teleportation with IBM and Quantinuum's quantum computers. When Spiropulu saw the key signature indicating that qubits were passing through the wormhole, she said, "I was shaken." The experiment can be seen as evidence for the holographic principle, a sweeping hypothesis about how the two pillars of fundamental physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity, fit together.... The holographic principle, ascendant since the 1990s, posits a mathematical equivalence or "duality" between the two frameworks. It says the bendy space-time continuum described by general relativity is really a quantum system of particles in disguise. Space-time and gravity emerge from quantum effects much as a 3D hologram projects out of a 2D pattern. Indeed, the new experiment confirms that quantum effects, of the type that we can control in a quantum computer, can give rise to a phenomenon that we expect to see in relativity — a wormhole.... To be clear, unlike an ordinary hologram, the wormhole isn't something we can see. While it can be considered "a filament of real space-time," according to co-author Daniel Jafferis of Harvard University, lead developer of the wormhole teleportation protocol, it's not part of the same reality that we and the Sycamore computer inhabit. The holographic principle says that the two realities — the one with the wormhole and the one with the qubits — are alternate versions of the same physics, but how to conceptualize this kind of duality remains mysterious. Opinions will differ about the fundamental implications of the result. Crucially, the holographic wormhole in the experiment consists of a different kind of space-time than the space-time of our own universe. It's debatable whether the experiment furthers the hypothesis that the space-time we inhabit is also holographic, patterned by quantum bits. "I think it is true that gravity in our universe is emergent from some quantum [bits] in the same way that this little baby one-dimensional wormhole is emergent" from the Sycamore chip, Jafferis said. "Of course we don't know that for sure. We're trying to understand it." Here's how principal investigator Spiropulu summarizes their experiment. "We found a quantum system that exhibits key properties of a gravitational wormhole yet is sufficiently small to implement on today's quantum hardware."

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6/15 - 20 Videogame QA Testers in Albany Win Union Vote at Activision Blizzard

"A group of about 20 quality assurance testers at Activision Blizzard's Albany location won their bid for a union Friday afternoon," reports the Washington Post: The workers join the Game Workers Alliance, a union at the gaming company that already includes testers from Wisconsin-based Raven Software. Amanda Laven, a Blizzard Albany quality assurance tester, said that the union vote comes just about a year after the testers first began collecting signatures for a union. "We knew we were gonna win, but it's still extremely exciting and gratifying, especially because tomorrow marks the first anniversary of when we started organizing," Laven said. The testers are the lowest paid workers at Blizzard Albany, formerly called Vicarious Visions, a studio known for its work on the Guitar Hero and Crash Bandicoot franchises. The Game Workers Alliance is the first union at a major video game company in the U.S., and Friday's news marks the union's second significant win in an industry that has historically not organized.... The Blizzard Albany testers took their cues from seeing testers at Call of Duty-maker Raven petition the company and gather signatures. On May 28, Raven testers won their bid to unionize. They're currently undergoing bargaining efforts for a contract.

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7/15 - Becoming America's #2 Seller of Electric Vehicles, Ford Passes Kia in November

CNBC reports: Ford Motor said Friday that it has achieved CEO Jim Farley's goal of becoming the second best-selling automaker of electric vehicles in the U.S. The Detroit automaker, citing third-party industry data, narrowly topped Hyundai/Kia to hit the goal.... Ford said its share of the electric vehicle segment was 7.4% through November, up from 5.7% a year earlier. Ford reported sales of 53,752 all-electric vehicles in the U.S. through November. Tesla, which does not break out domestic results, reported global deliveries of more than 908,000 EVs through the third quarter. Hyundai's sales do not include the Nexo hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The company says with that vehicle, it slightly outsold Ford in battery- and fuel cell-powered vehicles of 54,043 units through November. The sales come after the South Korean automaker lost incentives that gave buyers of its EVs tax credits of up to $7,500 under the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act, which took effect in August. Vehicles such as Ford's EVs that are produced in North America still qualify for the credit. The article notes that General Motors — America's second-largest automaker — also "plans to significantly step up EV production in the coming years." Although so far, through the third quarter of this year, "it reported sales of less than 23,000 EVs."

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8/15 - What Happened After Matt Taibbi Revealed Twitter's Deliberations on Hunter Biden Tweets?

"Twitter CEO Elon Musk turned to journalist Matt Taibbi on Friday to reveal the decision-making behind the platform's suppression of a 2020 article from the New York Post regarding Hunter Biden's laptop," reports Newsweek. "Taibbi later deleted a tweet showing [former Twitter CEO] Jack Dorsey's email address," adds the Verge, covering reactions to Taibbi's thread — and the controversial events that the tweets described: At the time, it was not clear if the materials were genuine, and Twitter decided to ban links to or images of the Post's story, citing its policy on the distribution of hacked materials. The move was controversial even then, primarily among Republicans but also with speech advocates worried about Twitter's decision to block a news outlet. While Musk might be hoping we see documents showing Twitter's (largely former) staffers nefariously deciding to act in a way that helped now-President Joe Biden, the communications mostly show a team debating how to finalize and communicate a difficult moderation decision. Taibbi himself tweeted that "Although several sources recalled hearing about a 'general' warning from federal law enforcement that summer about possible foreign hacks, there's no evidence - that I've seen - of any government involvement in the laptop story." More from the Verge: Meanwhile, Taibbi's handling of the emails — which seem to have been handed to him at Musk's direction, though he only refers to "sources at Twitter" — appears to have exposed personal email addresses for two high-profile leaders: Dorsey and Representative Ro Khanna. An email address that belongs to someone Taibbi identifies as Dorsey is included in one message, in which Dorsey forwards an article Taibbi wrote criticizing Twitter's handling of the Post story. Meanwhile, Khanna confirmed to The Verge that his personal Gmail address is included in another email, in which Khanna reaches out to criticize Twitter's decision to restrict the Post's story as well. "As the congressman who represents Silicon Valley, I felt Twitter's actions were a violation of First Amendment principles so I raised those concerns," Khanna said in a statement to The Verge. "Our democracy can only thrive if we are open to a marketplace of ideas and engaging with people with whom we disagree." The story also revealed the names of multiple Twitter employees who were in communications about the moderation decision. While it's not out of line for journalists to report on the involvement of public-facing individuals or major decision makers, that doesn't describe all of the people named in the leaked communications.... "I don't get why naming names is necessary. Seems dangerous," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote Friday in apparent reference to the leaks.... The Verge reached out to Taibbi for comment but didn't immediately hear back. Twitter, which had its communications team dismantled during layoffs last month, also did not respond to a request for comment. Wired adds: What did the world learn about Twitter's handling of the incident from the so-called Twitter Files? Not much. After all, Twitter reversed its decision two days later, and then-CEO Jack Dorsey said the moderation decision was "wrong." In other news, "Twitter will start showing view count for all tweets," Elon Musk announced Friday, "just as view count is shown for all videos." And he shared other insights into his plans for Twitter's future. "Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom of reach. Negativity should & will get less reach than positivity."

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9/15 - Computer Program For Particle Physics At Risk of Obsolescence

"Maintenance of the software that's used for the hardest physics calculations rests almost entirely with a retiree," reports Quanta magazine, saying the situation "reveals the problematic incentive structure of academia." Particle physicists use some of the longest equations in all of science. To look for signs of new elementary particles in collisions at the Large Hadron Collider, for example, they draw thousands of pictures called Feynman diagrams that depict possible collision outcomes, each one encoding a complicated formula that can be millions of terms long. Summing formulas like these with pen and paper is impossible; even adding them with computers is a challenge. The algebra rules we learn in school are fast enough for homework, but for particle physics they are woefully inefficient. Programs called computer algebra systems strive to handle these tasks. And if you want to solve the biggest equations in the world, for 33 years one program has stood out: FORM. Developed by the Dutch particle physicist Jos Vermaseren, FORM is a key part of the infrastructure of particle physics, necessary for the hardest calculations. However, as with surprisingly many essential pieces of digital infrastructure, FORM's maintenance rests largely on one person: Vermaseren himself. And at 73, Vermaseren has begun to step back from FORM development. Due to the incentive structure of academia, which prizes published papers, not software tools, no successor has emerged. If the situation does not change, particle physics may be forced to slow down dramatically... Without ongoing development, FORM will get less and less usable — only able to interact with older computer code, and not aligned with how today's students learn to program. Experienced users will stick with it, but younger researchers will adopt alternative computer algebra programs like Mathematica that are more user-friendly but orders of magnitude slower. In practice, many of these physicists will decide that certain problems are off-limits — too difficult to handle. So particle physics will stall, with only a few people able to work on the hardest calculations. In April, Vermaseren is holding a summit of FORM users to plan for the future. They will discuss how to keep FORM alive: how to maintain and extend it, and how to show a new generation of students just how much it can do. With luck, hard work and funding, they may preserve one of the most powerful tools in physics. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader g01d4 for submitting the story.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


10/15 - America's TSA Begins Quietly Testing Facial Recognition Tech at 16 Airports

America's Transportation Security Administration "has been quietly testing controversial facial recognition technology for passenger screening at 16 major domestic airports — from Washington to Los Angeles," reports the Washington Post. Their article adds that the agency "hopes to expand it across the United States as soon as next year." Kiosks with cameras are doing a job that used to be completed by humans: checking the photos on travelers' IDs to make sure they're not impostors.... You step up to the travel document checker kiosk and stick your ID into a machine. Then you look into a camera for up to five seconds and the machine compares your live photo to the one it sees on your ID. They call this a "one to one" verification system, comparing one face to one ID. Even though the software is judging if you're an impostor, there's still a human agent there to make the final call (at least for now). So how accurate is it? The TSA says it's been better at verifying IDs than the manual process. "This technology is definitely a security enhancement," said [TSA program manager Jason] Lim. "We are so far very satisfied with the performance of the machine's ability to conduct facial recognition accurately...." But the TSA hasn't actually released hard data about how often its system falsely identifies people, through incorrect positive or negative matches. Some of that might come to light next year when the TSA has to make its case to the Department of Homeland Security to convert airports all over the United States into facial recognition systems.... The TSA says it doesn't use facial recognition for law-enforcement purposes. It also says it minimizes holding on to our face data, so it isn't using the scans to build out a new national database of face IDs. "The scanning and match is made and immediately overwritten at the Travel Document Checker podium. We keep neither the live photo nor the photo of the ID," said Lim. But the TSA did acknowledge there are cases in which it holds on to the data for up to 24 months so its science and technology office can evaluate the system's effectiveness.... "None of this facial recognition technology is mandated," said Lim. "Those who do not feel comfortable will still have to present their ID — but they can tell the officer that they do not want their photo taken, and the officer will turn off the live camera." There are also supposed to be signs around informing you of your rights. Here's the TSA's web page about the program. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike for sharing the article.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


11/15 - FTX Subsidiary Plans Restarting Withdrawals in Japan, as US Requests Review of Fraud Allegations

"FTX Japan is looking to restart withdrawals," reports CoinDesk, "after a plan to return deposits was approved by its parent, the failed FTX exchange." "If the plan works out, the collapsed crypto exchange's users in Japan might be some of the first customers to get their money back...." In a notice posted on its website, FTX Japan said it was able to confirm with the company's bankruptcy lawyers in the U.S. that Japanese customers' funds "should not be part of FTX Japan's estate given how these assets are held and property interests under Japanese law." FTX Japan had been working on the plan to restart withdrawals for the last two weeks, and says it was approved by the FTX Trading management team.... "As part of the plan, we are incorporating controls, security audit, reconciliations and reviews to put in place a robust and secure process," the notice said. Meanwhile, America's Department of Justice "has requested that an independent examiner be appointed to review 'substantial and serious allegations of fraud, dishonesty' and 'incompetence'," reports CNBC: FTX's bankruptcy case demands an independent review, the Department of Justice said, because of allegations of fraud and dishonesty which could damage the entire crypto industry. Andrew Vara, the U.S. bankruptcy trustee for FTX's case, said Sam Bankman-Fried and his team mismanaged the company or potentially engaged in fraudulent conduct. The DOJ is seeking an independent examiner to investigate what happened... Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti told CNBC that the move "shows a level of interest and attention that they're paying to this that should be troubling to Mr. Bankman-Fried."

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12/15 - 2022's 'Earthshot Prizes' Recognize Five Innovative Responses to Climate Change

"Childhood friends in Oman who figured out how to turn carbon dioxide into rock are among five winners chosen for the Prince of Wales's prestigious Earthshot Prize," reports the BBC: The annual awards were created by Prince William to fund projects that aim to save the planet. Each winner will receive £1m ($1.2m) to develop their innovation.... "I believe that the Earthshot solutions you have seen this evening prove we can overcome our planet's greatest challenges," Prince William said during the ceremony. "By supporting and scaling them we can change our future," he said. 1,500 projects were nominated, according to the event's web site. Here's the five winners: A Kenya-based company producing stoves powered by processed biomass (made from charcoal, wood and sugarcane) that "burns cleaner, creating 90% less pollution than an open fire," while cutting fuel costs in half. The Indian startup behind Greenhouse-in-a-box. "Plants in the greenhouse require 98% less water than those outdoors and yields are seven-times higher," explains the site, while the greenhouses themselves are 90% cheaper than a standard greenhouse, "more than doubling farmers' incomes [while] using less water and fewer pesticides." A Queensland-based program to expand the network of rangers using drones to monitor reefs and wildfires while sharing information and innovative ideas. London-based start-up Notpla, which created a plastic alternative made from seaweed and plants that's entirely biodegradable. (The seaweed used in its production also captures carbon twenty-times faster than trees.) The company 44.01 removes CO2 permanently by mineralising it in peridotite, accelerating the natural process by pumping carbonated water into peridotite underground. (Unlike carbon storage, "mineralizing" CO2 removes it forever, making the process safer, cost-effective, and scalable.) Five prizes will be awarded each year until 2030.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


13/15 - Chinese Police are Using Cellphone Data to Track Down Protesters

CNN reports on the aftermath of last weekend's protests against the Chinese government: A protester told CNN they received a phone call Wednesday from a police officer, who revealed they were tracked because their cellphone signal was recorded in the vicinity of the protest site.... When they denied being there, the caller asked: "Then why did your cellphone number show up there?" In China, all mobile phone users are required by law to register their real name and national identification number with telecom providers. The protester was also told to report to a police station for questioning and to sign a written record.... In Shanghai, where some of the boldest protests took place with crowds calling for Xi's removal on two consecutive nights, police searched residents' cellphones in the streets and in the subway for VPNs that can be used to circumvent China's internet firewall, or apps such as Twitter and Telegram, which though banned in the country have been used by protesters. Police also confiscated the cellphones of protesters under arrest, according to two protesters who spoke to CNN. A protester who was arrested over the weekend said they were told to hand over their phone and password to the police as "evidence." They said they feared police would export the data on their phone after it was confiscated by officers, who told them they could pick it up a week later. Another protester said police returned their phone upon their release, but officers had deleted the photo album and removed the WeChat social media app. One protester told CNN they successfully avoided being contacted by the police as of Thursady afternoon. During the demonstration, they'd kept their phone in airplane mode.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


14/15 - New CryWiper Data Wiper Targets Russian Courts, Mayor's Offices

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: A previously undocumented data wiper named CryWiper is masquerading as ransomware, but in reality, destroys data beyond recovery in attacks against Russian mayor's offices and courts. CryWiper was first discovered by Kaspersky this fall, where they say the malware was used in an attack against a Russian organization. [...] CryWiper is a 64-bit Windows executable named 'browserupdate.exe' written in C++, configured to abuse many WinAPI function calls. Upon execution, it creates scheduled tasks to run every five minutes on the compromised machine. Next, it contacts a command and control server (C2) with the name of the victim's machine. The C2 responds with either a "run" or "do not run" command, determining whether the wiper will activate or stay dormant. Kaspersky reports seeing execution delays of 4 days (345,600 seconds) in some cases, likely added in the code to help confuse the victim as to what caused the infection. CryWiper will stop critical processes related to MySQL, MS SQL database servers, MS Exchange email servers, and MS Active Directory web services to free locked data for destruction. Next, the malware deletes shadow copies on the compromised machine to prevent the easy restoration of the wiped files. CryWiper also modifies the Windows Registry to prevent RDP connections, likely to hinder intervention and incident response from remote IT specialists. Finally, the wiper will corrupt all enumerated files except for ".exe", ".dll", "lnk", ".sys", ".msi", and its own ".CRY", while also skipping System, Windows, and Boot directories to prevent rendering the computer completely unusable. After this step, CryWiper will generate ransom notes named 'README.txt,' asking for 0.5 Bitcoin (approximately $8,000) in exchange for a decrypter. Unfortunately, this is a false promise, as the corrupted data cannot be restored.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


15/15 - Apple Now Calling AR/VR Headset Operating System 'xrOS'

Apple has decided to call the software that will run on its upcoming AR/VR headset "xrOS," an update from the original "RealityOS or "rOS" naming the company was planning on, according to Bloomberg. MacRumors reports: The name change comes as Apple begins to prepare for the launch of the headset, which is expected at some point in 2023. The headset will feature its own operating system, much like the Apple TV and the Apple Watch, and it will have a dedicated App Store. "XR" is meant to stand for extended reality, which pertains to both augmented and virtual reality. Rumors indicate that the headset Apple is working on will be "mixed reality" like the Microsoft HoloLens, supporting both augmented and virtual reality capabilities. Augmented reality augments what the user is seeing in the real world, while virtual reality is an entirely digital experience. Apple internally referred to the headset's operating system as "rOS" during the development process, but Bloomberg suggests that xrOS is a less generic name that will allow the headset to stand out more. In addition to confirming the name change with unnamed Apple sources, Bloomberg also discovered that a shell company named Deep Dive LLC has been registering the xrOS name across several countries, and Apple could potentially be behind these filings. Apple often uses shell companies to try to secretly register for trademarks for upcoming products.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


News

Luke's Webpage

Items count = 51

1/51 - 'Based' Paganism vs. Christianity

I’ve been meaning to write about Paganism recently. I will frame it as a response to an email I received within the past day or so:

Hey Luke,

First off, I would like to thank you for all your efforts in making everything you know accessible to everyone. You have exposed me to some of the most thought-provoking people on the internet and Varg is one of them. I was wondering if you can write an article or make a video on what you think about Varg’s Paganism in relation to you choosing Orthodox Christianity. I know that you briefly talked about it in one of your livestreams, however, I would like to better understand why you don’t practice Paganism yourself. My background is Serbian and most Serbians follow the Serbian Orthodox Church, but after watching Varg’s videos, I’m conflicted. I agree with a lot of what Varg says about Christianity, but my father long ago told me to follow the Serbian Orthodox Church if I were to become religious. I’m sure that many people feel the same way after watching Varg’s videos, and your thoughts on it would greatly help people like me make up their minds.

Best,

redacted

I will sum up my answer to this email in bullet points, then explain what I mean.

Your Average Pagan

Many people probably don’t know who Varg Vikernes is, but since the email brings him up, I will talk about him as an example of where paganism leads. Modern “paganism” is not an authentic tradition handed down over the ages. It is an attempt of modern disconnected people to recreate or re-engineer a culture, time and place they have absolutely no contact with. This ultimately makes “paganism” a modernist Rorschach test where individuals can more-or-less create the religion they want.

Paganism with modern goggles

Varg’s particular “paganism” is a kind of scientific euhemerism: he doesn’t actually believe in gods in the way an ancient pagan would have, but that the concepts of the gods represent scientific or other knowledge. (This is where the placenta meme around him comes from after all, when he and his wife related assorted pagan myths and items to the tree-like appearance of a human placenta.) He has also reduced classical abstract spiritual concepts into hormones and other related things. In essence, he has created a pseudo-paganism that is compatible with modern materialism.

Varg had cited and recommended works such as Frazer’s Golden Bough as influential on his thought which is of a similar vein. This book was part of a wider movement in the English-speaking rationalist world to rationalize and explain myth. It goes without saying that I think this all comes from the assumption of modern man that all ancient people underlyingly thought like Neil deGrasse Tyson.

How long until legend becomes myth?

More plausible is the viewpoint I’ve spoken of in works such as Hamlet’s Mill. It alleges that one specific prehistoric civilization used myth to transmit scientific knowledge, but being thousands of years out from that civilization, the descendant stories are distorted, partial and can only be related after extensive study. They allege that “Hamlet stories” are similar in origin and actually carry astrological information, including the idea of the procession of the equinoxes.

But Varg’s quasi-euhemerism makes a much stronger claim, that all our “forebears” (as he tends to call them) left an entire encyclopedia of scientific knowledge in stories that have remained unblemished and mostly unchanged over thousands or millions of years since the Neanderthals, who he views as the Trve Europeans.

This stronger claim should be absurd on its face, as it assumes that over the millennia, there is little to no addition, subtraction or change of folklore. The Hamlet’s Mill model admits that this does happen, but Varg is dealing with a much longer scale and often makes very specific claims about some myths. What I think Varg is truly doing when he looks at a pagan myth and sees a placenta, he is seeing statistical noise and fitting that noise to the many possibilities in his head. (I will also say that this is somewhat the modus operandi of many capital-T “Traditionalists” in the vein of Evola or Guénon.)

Is Christianity a departure from European tradition?

One thing I’ve tried to emphasize in some places is the general wrongness of the idea of the cultural “quantum leap” or “discontinuity” between Prechristian and Christian Europe. This is a highly important issue for many putative pagans, because they view the “change” of Europe over to Christianity as perhaps the start of the now constant and perpetual leftist cultural revolution.

This is the idea, which most people and “based” pagans have even by osmosis, that the Christianization of Europe was a radical break from history and tradition.

This is true only on the Christian metric: obviously the salvation of Europe is a quantum leap. However, melodramatic pagans will lament that this is when Europe have up its “European” soul and adopted a “Jewish” or “desert” religion which put the continent on a totally different and out-of-touch cultural direction.

Pagan Philosophy and Christianity

Christian theology, including Trinitarian theology has direct and undeniable “pagan” analogues and imitators: Neoplatonism expresses a kind of theological trinity as well (the One, the Intellect and the Soul), albeit one more similar to Origen’s trinity where a hierarchy of the three persons exist.

In the cosmogony of the Poemandres, a Hermetic work, shows a pagan creation myth wherein God creates the world via his Logos, as in the first chapter of St. John’s gospel, which also has a trinitarian and monotheistic unity with God (differing from Christianity in its panentheism).

As I mentioned in the linked podcast episode above, Stoic philosophy is a component needed to understand the opening of the gospel of John and is part of the philosophical backdrop of early Christian theology.

Medieval esoteric doctrines and alchemy viewed all of nature as trinitarian, possessing body, mind, and spirit (salt, sulfur and mercury), which was related directly to the Triune nature of God. Even specific mystical sects like Mithraism or the many forms of Gnosticism are tied closely to the development of Christianity.

All of these intellectual strands were intertwined with Christianity since the beginning of the written expression of Christian theology.

A pagan now has to ask himself: if Hermeticism or Mithraism had taken over as a universal religion of Europe, would they loathe it like they loathe Christianity and view it as a radical departure from “paganism?” Note that Hermeticism had an alleged Egyptian origin, and Mithraism had a orientalist/Iranic origin.

Note that none of my point here is specifically that Christianity influenced or created these other philosophies or that they influenced (providentially) Christianity. What is important is that looking at it dispassionately, we cannot deem Christianity as some cultural departure from “real” European culture without also throwing out this entire philosophical tradition as a whole.

Medieval Christians would often look at Greek Philosophy as another covenant of God established to prepare mankind intellectually for the revelation of the Trinity. (Note also that Dante and others represent Christians who viewed the Roman Empire also as part of a divine plan.)

Ultimately, the Christian religion is non-cultural and thus universal/catholic. There are cultural aspects associated with it, but there’s a difference between essence and accidents. Of those cultural aspects, they are nearly all European, not, as some allege, Hebrew or Jewish. Most of the New Testament is quite literally an explication of why this religion which accepts the Hebrew Scriptures is markedly non-Jewish and why Jewish practices like circumcision and sacrifice are sacrilegious.

So the view we should get from this is that Christianization was no cultural leap into an alien worldview, but something whose intellectual side happened slowly over centuries and would only be viewed as spiritual, not culturally distinct from its environment.

Which change is good?

Note that even Varg admits that religious interpretation and practice changes with the centuries. In his interpretation and even in his RPG, MYFAROG (which is really just an expression of his paganism and worldview), characters can have one of two “Life Stances” or religious inclinations: Seiðr or Âsatrû. Seiðr “tradition,” represents a kind of animism, witchcraft or spell-casting, while Âsatrû represents the worship of pagan gods. Characters can choose either life stance, but one can only change from Seiðr to Âsatrû, which is a representation of the alleged historical shift in early history from animistic to polytheistic practices.

If we accept this cultural transition as “legitimate” in terms of cultural continuity, on what grounds could we also mark as verboten a shift from polytheism to monotheism? After all, the pagan philosophy of Plato and Aristotle even from the earliest was monotheistic at its core, and even today, the world’s one remaining “polytheistic” religion, Hinduism only appears so on the surface, but has at its core its own monad and final cause: Brahman.

Tradition vs. Inventing your own religion

To learn of Christian theology, thus, is to set oneself down a road of millennia of learning with often with no delineation between Christian and Prechristian thought. By the same token, learning of secular philosophy, even as an atheist might lead you to Christianity, as was the case with me. There is no obvious discontinuity, either in thought or practice.

But modern day “paganism” does indeed have such a gap. To be a “pagan” does not involve communing with a centuries-old tradition passed down generation-to-generation from antiquity.

It is modern people imagining based on T.V. shows, books and their own creativity what Prechristian Europe was like and then putting on their own imitation of it. They might see something they dislike in the world, blame it on Christians and then imagine a world without it. This invariably comes with retrojecting their own modern values and assumptions on the past.

After all, we Christians can sit down with an Orthodox Priest or grow up in a Orthodox household and have a direct, personal contact with a tradition and understand how people who are part of it think and act. We have no tangible contact with Prechristian European paganism, even out of intellectual interest. Understanding how Europeans truly thought and acted is an issue of cultural reconstruction and theory. Traditional folklore and practices are still very much alive, but they are now decked in a Christian garb. We do celebrate Christmas for Our Lord’s birth, but everyone knows that nearly all of the practices of that season of the many nations of Europe predate Christianization.

The Worst Possible Decision.

All this said, the absolute worst self-own possible would be someone who has direct and easy access to the Orthodox Church and abandons it or leaves it for a false “religion” that doesn’t even exist off of the internet and has no organic connection to reality, like Neo-Paganism.

So my recommendation to the emailer above should be obvious.

Being physically close to the Orthodox Church is a huge asset, but even being able to travel to one occasionally is a massive grace. Everyone should be taking advantage of that as often as possible.

Pagan Gurus

Because it is ungrounded and ahistorical, modern “paganism” thus naturally exists as a kind of extreme Protestant guru-centered feel-goodery where since there is absolutely no tether to a genuine preserved tradition, a man can make up an unfalsifiable claim about what true “Paganism” is and sell it as legit.

I mentioned Varg earlier, who has concocted a “paganism” that consists in claiming that their lore and practice embed scientific information. He doesn’t believe in pagan gods, unless we’re talking about belief in a very evasive and meaningless Jordan Peterson kind of way. If we could actually transport a prehistoric pagan to our day and speak to him, he would probably either be confused or bemused by this very modern worldview, but we can’t even do this.

Most pagans are not “based” like Varg anyway (he lives a minimalist and traditional lifestyle in rural France with an ever-growing family). Most “pagans” are leftists who like “paganism” because they hate God and nature and morality and imagine that pagans were demented sexual perverts like they are.

Truth

Notice that I had specifically avoided the most important issue: Truth.

I’ve done this because when people are asking to convert to something just because it’s “based,” Truth is unfortunately not necessarily their concern, so I’ve first addressed issues that do concern them.

The reality is, thankfully, that truth is the most “based” thing of all—And it is entirely cringe to believe in something because it sounds cool to you. If you think you can decide your own truth, you are no different from someone who thinks they can decide their own pronouns, literally.

Even in the email above, he refers to me “choosing” orthodox Christianity as if it were an issue of personal taste. If I liked pop music and people rolling on the ground, perhaps I would be just as justified converting to some Pentecostal sect. This is silly.

The greatest deception is that religion is this separate category about “feelings” or “preference” and not truth. Atheist and spiritual R*dditor Stephen Jay Gould put this in words in the modern era, calling science and religion “non-overlapping magesteria,” declaring in a laughable attempt at big-braned centrism that nothing in material reality is relevant to religion and nothing in religion is relevant to material reality.

This is strange because people can research the philosophies I mentioned earlier, Platonism, Gnosticism, Stoicism, Hermeticism and can analyze and critique them and look at them as models of reality perfectly comparable to modern philosophical assumptions and approaches. But we have been taught to view Christianity as this separate category, that can’t possibly be a model of reality, but is a something merely “moral” or “personal” or “spiritual” which are all terms that have been debased to mean nothing at all.

A Christian believes that Jesus’s resurrection was a true historical event, and a prelude of a general resurrection to come and that he established a Church and sacraments which are his vehicles for having man recover from sin within this life to prepare for his roles in the next. The orthodox Christian Church is an unbroken chain since that period, and oft built on yet older philosophical and liturgical practices.

If you find this alien or God unbelieveable, you can do yourself the favor of prayer and visit a priest and see what happens.

They don’t even believe it.

To contrast, pagans do not believe in pagan gods. Their brains are 100% modern and materialistic in mindset, and if they ironically say they believe in gods, it is out of some kind of Petersonian fake metaphorical “belief” in a concept or that “Zeus” isn’t a person, but is some kind of abstraction symbolizing the weather or something silly. The only thing sillier is for them to claim that people in the ancient world didn’t really believe in them either, but practiced entire religions meta-ironically for some social reasons. If they believe in a “spiritual” nature, it is not one beyond or above matter, but instead derived from it: it is psychological, hormonal, etc.

Modern paganism is neither a tradition, nor a religion, nor even a belief. It is just a new identity which supposedly flexes some kind of disposition to the world which is not even consistent across pagans because there is no basis for any of it.


Real Baste European Pagans

Christians, however, do believe in pagan gods. Christians have always admitted the reality of spiritual beings, including the demonic. You can take the Michael Heiser/Divine Council pill on this if you’re interested: While there is only one Creator and Supreme God, he created many among his heavenly host, and originally appointed them to the different races on earth. Many rebelled and set themselves up as specific gods of their appointed races.

One of the purposes of Christ’s coming was to vanquish these usurpers, and thus paganism/polytheism, which obviously has been successful. (Note that the Book of Enoch in Chapter 10 prophecies that these fallen angels would be judged 70 generations after the Enochian period, which cross-referencing with the Gospel of Luke, it is exactly 70 generations until Christ.) Now the issues of faith are not so much polytheism, but heresy and then atheism, which is a significant enough change in the cosmic dynamic.


2/51 - Minimizing Liabilities Is Making It.

The default way to look at financial “independence” nowadays is to think that means “making a lot of money.” That’s understandable.

But then you see stuff like this:

60% of millennials earning over $100,000 say they're living paycheck to paycheck.

Or this:

It takes until 30 for a person to be as rich as they were when they were born. (And this is average net worth, median would be significantly worse.)

The longer you mentally analyze the second picture, the more depressing it will get. Obviously the negative net worth early in life is kids losing around $10,000 a year in value by going to college, but the truly depressing thing is that after that period, their net worth increases only by an average of about $5,000 a year.

That means they might have $5,000 more in the bank or $5,000 paid off of their student loans or $5,000 going to equity in a house, but no combination greater than that.

How does this happen?

How is it that people alive in the period of the highest and most productive technology are working more than Medieval serfs?

Let’s put it in simple terms by defining “making it:”

Making it:
Earning or having significantly more money than you spend or owe.

Or in pseudomath:

income - liabilities = comfortability

To increase comfortablity, you can increase your income or decrease your liabilities. This is a simple equation.

By “liabilities” I mean:

The problem I would estimate is that people focus all of their time, money and interest on increasing their income and focus quite literally none on decreasing their liabilities, which is actually substantially easier anyway.

In fact, the modern economy, including all the bad advice it gives to people can generally be thought of a system that is desperatly trying to increase everyone’s liabilities within it. Financial libabilities, debt and others, breed even more financial liabilities.

The Lifestory of Basically Everyone Nowadays

Let’s illustrate this with the story of most people you know:

  1. “I’m going to the best college I can because everyone told me to.”
  2. “I need to pay off my $40,000+ in student loans, so I need to move to the city and get a good job.”
  3. “I get paid well, so I need a better car and other stuff to match.”
  4. “I still have loan debt, car debt and now credit card debt, but now I have a good credit score, so I’ll use all my savings to pay 20% of an expensive house I’ll be paying off for 25 years.”
  5. “Oh my boss wants me to humiliate myself for sodomy month or get the Coofid vaccine or the Mark of the Beast to keep my job. I have at least a quarter of a mil invested in my life here, so I can’t just leave. Be realistic.”
  6. “Yeah the economy is really bad and I lost a lot of investments. Either way, this is my career and what I’m trained for. It’d be hard to retrain. I made the right choices, I just got unlucky.”
  7. “Well, I’m 60 and it’s time for retirement! Now that my body is broken I can start enjoying life!”
  8. *Dies of seed-oil-induced heart attack.*

It’d be wrong to singularly blame student loans for all of this, but there is a tangible sense in which opening up any new massive monthly liability to the system encourages people to open up more to cover for it.

No one is ever told that this is the inevitable end of increasing liabilities: you need more and more liabilities.

“Which way Millennial?”

Millennials come in two financial categories: around 90% of them are extreme consoomers who cannot not spend every penny of their salaries on subscriptions, plastic toys and coffee and seem to view the fact they get calls from collections agencies as some unpreventable outcome of “capitalism.”

The other 10% are the exact opposite: they are contemplating living in the trunk of their 1990’s Corolla parked in the parking lot of their job site so they can save 97% of their income. When they plan on buying a house or getting married, they are quixotically salivating on how much money they can save on monthly bills.

The Endgame

I will go ahead and say, I consider the ideal not even to be rich, but to not need money to live a comfortable life because you have put yourself in a geographic and behavioral position where you can survive on as little as possible.

Either way, my mindset (as the second type of millennial) has always been “How can I absolutely minimize the amount of money I need to live?”

The implicit goal was to live on as little as possible: that’s what actually maximizes your life’s freedom. If you can live on less than, say, $500 a month, even working as a part-time wagie, you will be plenty to pay bills, save a significant amount and have lots of free time.

For young single guys in computer science, this is especially ideal, since your hobbey/craft doesn’t cost anything to tinker with.

In my late twenties, right before I bought my house, I was living in a college town with a monthly budget including my rent of around $400 ($300 was rent $100 was basically groceries). Probably went over that $100 most months, but never by much. This is also when I started churning credit cards to make a significant portion of my little expenditure back.

Behavioral Patterns over Life

As you’re saving money to buy/pay off a permanent dwelling place, most important is cultivating permanent behaviors that will reduce your need for money and “the system.”

If you take the “high”-income, high-liability route, you’re going to be establishing wasteful antipatterns your early life and when you need to buckle down and root those out, it will be more difficult because it will be the egotistically trying task of going from showly and “easy” pleasure spending to a Spartan budget.

It’s much easier to have a solid foundation of low spending. I said in that video years ago on getting Trumpbux that all money you earn and spend should be directly weaponized to decrease your reliance on money. Property, tools, plants, skills. These are investments much more substantial than investing in boomer stocks because they lessen your need for money.

Worst Case Scenario

As a passing remark, I’ll add that the other benefit of focusing on minimizing liabilities is that it makes you significantly less reliant on “the system” and more robust in the case of disaster.

“Training” to get a highly specific corporate job is not going to help you in all possible scenarios in the way that simple the simple craftsmanship of someone who fixes their own cars and things.


3/51 - The hardest technical solutions are right in front of your face.

Nassim Taleb had this old anecdote of the sheer absurdity that while the suitcase and other bags had existed for lifetimes, it was only in the 1990’s that people had the idea to put wheels on the things so they didn’t have to haul them around airports all day with their strength.

It reminds you of the fact that while children in the Incan Empire did indeed have some toys with wheels, apparently no one thought to use the wheel to make a simple cart or wagon to use in town or on the Inca’s extensive imperial roadways.

The proper response to hearing this should be the deserved angst that right now, there are make “obvious” technological improvements we could make to improve our lives significantly. Even worse, in lieu of these simple and obvious solutions which have lain hidden in plain site for centuries, we have no doubt developed a lot of inefficient technology to fill in the gap.

Since I was recently doing tutorials on Hugo, a static site generator, it’s funny to think that through the 90’s, no one really thought to invent a computationally simple static-site generator as they exist now. People moved pretty much directly from manually edditing HTML files manually into massive proprietary WYSIWYG editors and web “frameworks” that regenerate web pages on every single visit.

This lack of vision and inability to see the simpler solution has largely produced the slow-loading, content-minimal web of today and the bizarre culture of modern “webdevs” whose diets consist in anti-patterns.

The shame of Bitcoin

Recently there was an interview released of me at Monerotopia with the Crypto Vigilate team. Unfortunately, the video cut off and doesn’t have perhaps the best part which I now remember: our discussion on the possibility of “obvious solutions” that could conceivably replace proof-of-work in cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin, ultimately is a self-reinforcing behavioral Nash Equilibrium that uses the logic of proof-of-work mining to establish consensus while still remaining decentralized. The thing is, anyone who is not a delusional fanboy has to look at proof-of-work as some kind of incredible weird and inefficient abomination.

To establish decentralized consensus, we have to have an increasing farm of the world’s computers performing computations that do essentially nothing outside of “secure the network.”

There is no magic force in the universe that has ordained that the only possible way to establish decentralized consensus is Proof-of-Work. Proof-of-stake is obviously an alternative to it, but one whose long-term game theoretic nature is still an issue of significant controversy.

Regardless, an alien civilization observing us might view the issue of decentralized consensus similar to how we view the Inca who never thought to use wheels to make carts. It will be pretty absurd if most of the world’s computing power will soon be dedicated to proof-of-work mining only for some bratty kid or jaded cryptographer to come up with an “obvious” other way to establish a self-reinforcing system that can verify decentralized consensus that doesn’t require the waste.

Take-aways

  1. Technological opportunities are not just everywhere, they are right in front of your face.
  2. The fact that a solution is obvious and simple is not reason for ruling it out because “Someone must have thought of that and tried it before.”
  3. Never be happy with technology that is inelegant just because there is no obvious alternative now.


4/51 - 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.


5/51 - 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.


6/51 - Matrix vs. 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!

(Of course, we all know that this is a baseless and widely deboonkted anti-semitic conspiracy theory as Our Greatest Ally^®️^ Israel would never do anything bad to us at all.)

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.


7/51 - 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

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

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

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.


8/51 - 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.


9/51 - The Problems with Utilitarianism

I originally wrote this essay in 2014 or 2015 in a Chinese buffet in Athens, Georgia. I've changed some of it and am re-adding it here. I talk about the issues with Utilitarianism and a bad book by Sam Harris.


Utilitarianism

At a dumb intuitive level, the "ethical" idea of [Utilitarianism]{.dfn} 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!

Douglas Adams in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy presented the idea of a genetically engineered cow which not only was made to be able to speak, but to enjoy the prospect of being eaten and encourage others to kill and eat him. Experience itself is not some kind of thing arbiter of morality. Pain, in fact, might be a negligible or incomplete guide to what is not good. Children have to put up with being drug around to do many things they don't enjoy. That doesn't mean some immorality in anything.

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 principles where every decision is determined to be acceptable by some centralized utilitarian calculus.


10/51 - 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

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.

zk-SNARK is short for "Zero Knowledge Succinct Non-interactive ARgument of Knowledge."

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

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]{.dfn} because it scales better than zk-SNARKs and [transparent]{.dfn} 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.



11/51 - 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 movements for 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 with perfectly 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 agencies realize 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 happen with a fully monitorable currency, needless to say, it will contain what 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.
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.

I will say, if you think that the capped supply of Bitcoin will work out fine and might be better, you can still have the benefits of Monero with Wownero, which is a Monero fork with a capped supply and doge-tier memes (it also has a higher ring signature size of 22 which might theoretically be better for privacy (or overkill)). (See on Coinmarketcap) They also have a meme site.

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 for donations 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


12/51 - We Want Our 4 Causes Back!

Artistotle, 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 incisors 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 Aristotelian 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 ourselves 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 amounts 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 book 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 arise from natural selection, what about a Formal Cause?

While I'm on Fodor and Massimo's book (who again, are not talking in Aristotelian terms themselves), they actually do end up resuscitating 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.


13/51 - 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.

"Is it hard?"

No. It's sort of like learning 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 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 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 fully 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Making a Professional Résumé

Here, I also give some extra pointers while I make a résumé.

Part 1

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Part 2

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14/51 - 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.

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 person's 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.

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 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:

"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.


15/51 - 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

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:

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.


16/51 - Academic

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. I had prepared this handout for the sixth week which never happened.

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)

Click to reveal 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)

Click to reveal 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)

Click to reveal 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.


17/51 - Advice on Some Other Languages

This page is just for minor pointers on lesser studied languages that I don't have enough to have on their own pages.

Gothic

Gothic is a dead language and the only thing existing in it is a partially translated New Testament by Wulfila. It still is a very important language for the study of Germanic and Indo-Europeanism because it is the only language of "Eastern Germanic" so well attested. Eastern Germanic languages are distinct from other Germanic languages in their lack of umlaut and some other characteristically Germanic features, while Gothic still retains some earlier Indo-European inflectional categories.

I mention Gothic only because one of the best ever language learning books I've ever seen is written for it, and that is Thomas Lambdin's Introduction to the Gothic Language. I actually took a Gothic class flippantly in graduate school, but the book stuck out to me as being perfectly designed for the typical target audience of Gothic in historical linguistics.

The book has very well designed lessons and activities, but I think greatest is that in the back of the book, for each chapter there is a corresponding lesson on the historical grammar of the content learned. It goes through what conjugates of each word exist in English, Latin, Greek or Sanskrit or other Indo-European languages and provided comparative paradigms of noun and verb inflections. No word or concept is left without a real mneumonic device, not a fake one fake from some joke about the word, but one tied into the actual historical facts of the word.

I've said before that one of the reasons I never use things like Anki and "spaced repetition software" is that the real way to retain information is to understand how it fits within a wider web of information. In historical linguistics, you have an ideal of this because the more you learn, the easier it is to "remember:" remembering that the Gothic word for "field" is akrs is incredibly simple when you realize it's the same as Latin ager, Greek agrós, Sanskrit ájra and English acre.

Sanskrit

Sanskrit is the crown jewel of Indo-European languages and there are very few resources for it. Luckily, there is Devavanipravesika by Goldman and Sutherland, which again is a star in terms of language books.

I do recommend you have some of these abilities before attempting Sanskrit:

  1. Some grammatical knowledge of a classical inflected Indo-European language like Latin or Greek.
  2. Knowledge of the Devanagari script which is used for Sanskrit nowadays (also the script of Hindi and many other modern Indian languages).

Sandhi

In English, if you say the sentence "What are you up to?" it usually comes out closer to "Whatchu up to?" This kind of phonological compression is a natural and systematic process in all languages. What is interesting is that when written language was younger, it was very common to express these phonological changes in the writing system itself. It looks slangish in modern English to write "whatchu," but it is more accurate after all.

Sanskrit overtly writes every alternation like this, including when words seem to combine together into a single prosodic word. The term for this is [Sandhi]{.dfn}.

The tricky thing that newbies to Sanskrit must understand is that knowing the principles of Sandhi are the first priority in knowing Sanskrit because it's impossible to even parse a basic sentence before you understand it. Phonemically, many Sanskrit words end in an -s, but one of the first rules of Sandhi is that words are not allowed to end in -s in most cases. So -s might show up as -h or -o or something else depending on the phonetic context.

I say this because before you get excited about diving into Sanskrit, you have to make sure you know the basics of Sandhi or it will all be a mess.

Classical/Koiné Greek

Greek, much like Spanish, I never really sat down to learn. Greek is close enough in form to Latin that I learned it from reading a biglottic Bible in both languages. Its grammar presents very few concepts alien to Latin, the only big hurdles probably being the novel uses of the article and if you want to learn classical Greek like a pro, the pitch accent system.

What I mean is that I only read very little of Greek grammar before I could pick up my Latin-Greek Bible and start reading the Greek with the aid of the parallel Latin. This was also a nice experience because you can see the similaries between the two languages, but also how the expressiveness of Greek is sometimes lost in translation.

Greek, for example, has such a complete and elegant paradigm of participles that many of them are unstranlatable in Latin. Latin has only passive perfect participles and active present participles, while Greek has participles for the whole spectrum of voice, tense and aspect. What that means is that Latin has to talk around some common Greek expressions, often utilizing Latin deponents (which can have perfect active participle) to get the meaning across.


18/51 - Command Line Bibles

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
  2. Latin Vulgate — Github, Gitlab
  3. Greek Septuagint & New Testament — Github, Gitlab

Installation

git clone https://github.com/lukesmithxyz/kjv.git
cd kjv
sudo 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 3:9
Revelation
3:9     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.


19/51 - 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 out-of-the-box 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.

This ad feature is not just optional, but is disabled by default.

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.

Issue 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).

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.

BAT as a 💩coin

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!

Like most 💩coins, BAT is not decentralized in any meaningful sense. It’s KYCed into oblivion and relies on a significant number of platforms in bottleneck positions, including in particular the BAT Project itself. I wouldn’t say I even support the BAT Project itself for this reason, I just don’t mind using Brave since you can dip your fingers into it without getting KYCed.

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


20/51 - Learn Chinese

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)

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!

The Red Books (for characters)

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.


21/51 - Learn Latin

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

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.

You may've known about these already, but they're worth noting.


22/51 - Learning European Languages (Michel Thomas)

From Gottfried 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.


23/51 - 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?

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 which you would be spending anyway.
  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.1
  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.

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. The Chase card I 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)


  1. Note: Never close a credit card. It looks bad on your record, while having many credit cards over a period of time which you pay off looks good. Just store your old cards away and you can often disable them on their websites.* ↩︎


24/51 - 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.


25/51 - Only Use Old Computers!

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," by which I 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 with severe time constraints.
  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 and (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.

Why do people use ThinkPads?

As I said above, I use a X220 ThinkPad. Older ThinkPads are fairly popular among people who think and care about doing things effectively and economically on a computer. Why is this?

ThinkPads were always designed for enterprise environments, meaning the financial incentives for the manufacturer are not always planned obsolesce, but a long-standing reputation among large companies of having durable, fixable and expandable machines.

To replace a hard drive on the X200 requires unscrewing just a single screw. Same to replace the memory. To replace a spoiled keyboard is no more than three screws. Modern laptops, including the degraded modern ThinkPad have abandoned this simplicity and opt for the Apple-Mac/cell phone design technique of making batteries, memory and the rest functionally soldered and irremovable.

How far can $500 go?

Over the years, I’ve had many things break on my laptops, but since I’ve been using ThinkPads, it is incredibly easy to keep a working computer even after rough use. I estimate that I have never spent more than a combined total of $500 on computers, which is usually a bare minimum for what someone can buy a “modern” laptop for nowadays.

When the keyboard on my ThinkPad breaks, I can just buy a replacement keyboard for $30 or $40 and replace the old one much easier than any other model. That’s the modularity of these computers.

Even in the worst case scenario when something on the motherboard makes the computer unbootable, I still get to keep my “broken” ThinkPad and repurpose the memory, wifi card, keyboard and everything else. I still have some parts of every laptop I’ve had just because they do come in a lot of use. The other month, a friend’s wifi on his desktop went out and I could replace it with one of my old ThinkPad modules.

This is the kind of thing you lose with modern computers. This is purposeful on the part of manufacturers, and it’s important not to pay them huge amounts of money to incentivize this behavior. It’s very easy to live off of 10 year old computers nowadays. The eBay-and-etc resale market is massive even thought many of us have gotten wise to the value of these old computers.


26/51 - 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.


27/51 - Science vs. 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 our 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.


28/51 - 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?"

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 and people 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.


29/51 - The Parable of Alien Chess

A parable on the Logical Postivist "interpretation" of scientific models.

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 and deviating 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

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, which due to the nature of the complexity of the universe and the multiplicity of possible 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.


30/51 - 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.

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 by 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."

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.

Cuck-licensers write proprietary software for free.
He does it for free.

Cuck Licenses, however, undermine those goals. They will say that they maximize freedom by placing no requirement on those who distribute When 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 an
Operating System and due to your arguments, I would definitely license that
under the GPL, as well as any new programs I write. I might even change most or
all of my current programs to GPL, with the exception of that bc, which needs
to remain BSD since it is default in FreeBSD now.

That said, I have a library I am working on, and my experience is that
libraries under the GPL do not get used, unless a commercial license is offered
as well, and often, not even then. You can see this with glibc, which has a
special linking exception and the fact that the LGPL is fairly popular for
libraries.

First question: what is your opinion on the linking exception and the LGPL? Are
they Cuck Licenses? I mean, they do require that the library and any
modifications be put under the LGPL, which means that the library remains libre
software. However, they can also be put into proprietary code, which is the
entire reason you call MIT and BSD licenses Cuck Licenses.

Basically, it seems as though you are correct when it comes to licensing
programs 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 license
things under a permissive license if for institutional reasons:
mass-adoption is required and companies and such might be unnerved by
the GPL. Libraries might often be like that. So it's not necessarily a
purity-spiralling point.

RMS actually advised that ogg/vorbis should use a cuck license to
maximize adoption (it originally used the LGPL, but switched to BSD):

https://lwn.net/2001/0301/a/rms-ov-license.php3

It's thanks to this that it has now become a usable and wide-spread
format, used now on nearly every proprietary web service because of its
small-size, good fidelity and general superiority.

So yeah, if you're writing a standalone program, I'd use the GPL, but I
would choose licenses ultimately in terms of which would maximize the
possibilities for users of using free-software. In some circumstances,
that means using a cuck license. Same is true of the LGPL. I think
GNU/FSF recommend LGPL only to be used when it is competing with a
proprietary library, and if that's usually what you are writing, you
might end up writing a lot in the LGPL.


31/51 - 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 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]{.dfn}. God is the ultimate creator, and an individual is good insofar as [he reflects this creative tendency of God]{.dfn}. We see it expounded in the Hermetic Corpus:

“The other name of God is Father, again because He is the that-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's output 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.


32/51 - Politics matters most to slaves.

Now onto the second point I didn't get to in my post yesterday: politics only matters so much when you're a slave. Or as I put it there, "You will need politics less than you think."

That is to say that if you live in a city where your every action is watched, if you use proprietary software and communicate only via social media services, if you have no marketable skills because you have some inert degree and questionably productive and definitely replaceable job and a large company, you need politics quite a great deal.

Your entire existence in the system is based on being a good boy within the established boundaries of what is deemed by the mass media to be socio-politically appropriate. Maybe you've gone into debt, but you definitely rely the whole "system" for all the basics. If you don't think you do, just ask yourself whether your life has changed for the better after the Coronachan Panic of 2020.

What's the alternative? Well, boomer rants viewers might see some of this coming...

The fact of the matter is that both the daily ins-and-outs of politics and the overarching trends of politics matter very little the more independent your are of the system. Earlier, I always mumbled about how conservaboomers seemed a little too apathetic about the cultural changes being forced on them. This social engineering still is the most serious problem in all technologically-complex mass-media societies, but I must admit for people who choose personal independence and independence for their families and local communities, it is much less of a problem.

When I was plugged into the system, minorly red-pilled and generally peeved because I actually paid attention to the media as something other than to laugh at, I found the idea of Political "Exit" pretty cucky. How much sense does it make to leave the "political process" altogether? Sounds like giving up.

It sounds like giving up because the "political process" is something internal to the media system at large. That's why even when the political process does something the media doesn't like (like electing the Orange Boomer, for example), its actions are immediately rendered inert by fakery.

The actual solution is creating and participating in organic society, which still very much exists outside the purview of the media and NGOs and the like. People still need plumbers. No one is going to fire a plumber because he says trannies are mentally ill men in dresses—otherwise there'd be no plumbers. Or electricians, or builders or anyone who actually does anything productive. It'd just be HR, journalists and professors left... and some open source developers who write more codes of conducts than they do software. Do you think they'll be able to feed you?

Exiting the system is actually the opposite of surrender. Why would you think the solution is something like voting or even "owning the libs" or something publicly advertised as a solution? The actual solution is building an alternative. Or maybe rebuilding the alternative.

Do you really want to make your boss rich if you think he'd turn around and betray you because of a media witchhunt? It's better for you to be doxxed and fired now rather than wait 20 years for it, getting more ensconced in the insanity. Start becoming more independent now.

A lot of people LARP about what they're going to do when they take over "the system" by revolution. Revolution, the idea of abrupt enforced change, however, is fundamentally their idea and if you buy it, you're going to keep running your head into a wall.

Being independent, living out of the city and the Matrix, however, is simultaneously like transporting yourself back in time to when things were saner, but at the same time, transporting yourself into the future where "the system" has already collapsed and we're already rebuilding. Be a part of it now rather than later.


33/51 - Why do I so rarely talk about politics on my channel?

It's not a huge secret that I'm somewhere in the high echelons of the red-pill, however you define it. I'll openly talk about pretty any topic that people organically bring up in streams, or that I'm asked about, but I've never really made any kind of political content on my channel, aside from jokes and memes. That might be surprising because especially three years ago before the mass-bans and algoritm tampering, right wing political channels were a dime-a-dozen and an easily way to get views. There are two main reasons I never took part. Arguably "fear of being ZUCCed from YouTube" could be a possible third, but I have a kind intransigence that makes me relish me being banned. I'm also pretty tired of YouTube, and am increasingly questioning if using it is even a reasonable compromise...

So why do I not do political videos? Why do I not have a set list of deep facts that will blow you away and red-pill you? The two reasons:

Okay, reason one there is just the first line of the Daode Jing. The Daode Jing is the basic book of Daoism (Taoism), and Dao (literally "Way") is an amorphous concept in Chinese thought that could be crudely comparable to Western concepts of "natural order/law" or maybe even "spontaneous order." "Sounds gay," you say. So what does this famous first line mean and how is it relevant to why I don't talk about how to get red-pilled? I would say it's hard to translate, but even saying that would sound even more pretentious as if I actually know classical Chinese as a native language, but here's a rendering.

The Dao (way) that you can follow isn't the true eternal Dao. A name that you speak, isn't its true name.

An aside, it should be a capital offense to translate classical Chinese. It is so perfect and terse and everything autisitically limited to four elegant syllables that it's just criminal to mutilate it into another language, but we'll forgive it this time.

So what do I mean by quoting this? I mean that the journey to getting red-pilled is not something that can be explained. If I could just explain it, tell it to you, it wouldn't be the true story. It is a varied, and in each case, personal journey, that one goes on.

Although you've been lied to, it's not the lies that's the problem. As an adult, you can a lot of the times tell when the media is manipulating you, especially in the last past decade it's gotten so obvious even a Boomer could see it. But what you don't see is how when you were lied to (or told selective truths) as a child, you didn't have the same BS-detector, and that allowed a lot of deep-seated impressions about the world to be formed. So a lot of people who don't believe anything the media says now (rightly) are still mind-cucked. They accept the programming and differ on the details.

I will give you this hint. Basically all of your programmed emotional responses are your enemies. There was an old Moldbug blog post where he talked about even far after "awaking from his dogmatic slumber," he still was surprised that if he saw a group of Nazi LARPers, he would reflexively have a pang of emotional stress, but if he saw Stalinist LARPers, he wouldn't have the same kind of emotional reaction. I think everyone raised in the West has that same programmed reaction. You might know with your head that the communist death count is supposed to be higher and the suppression wider, but it doesn't click because you weren't made sensitive to it.

A good heuristic is whenever you see one of these emotional responses, especially an emotional response to a political term: democracy, equality, racism, feminism, literally all of them actually, your Pavlovian conditioning is telling you to avoid an intellectual area specifically because it is the ideological weak spot of the background propaganda of modernism. If it was not a weak spot, there would be no harm in you being allowed to calmly investigate it. People's thoughts are regulated in liberal democracy not by laws, but by psychological programming that goes off when someone is tempted to evaluate an idea they're not supposed to. Okay, actually I guess in Europe they're regulated by that and laws, and it's coming to America very, very soon now.

All of this is to say that breaking out of this programming is not so much of an issue of me or anyone else explaining a series of facts to you. 道可道,非常道。 That's what Laozi said. As cringe as it sounds, it is primarily a battle against yourself, or at least the part of yourself that has eaten up the tacit assumptions of modernism. Before you own the libs, you must own yourself. Laozi said that too.

In case quoting classical Chinese and talking in floating, general terms isn't getting across, I'll say that getting red-pilled is sort of mystical... literally. Of course, "mystical" in the old, original Greek sense. A "mystic" in Greek is just a synonym for an "initiate." Many cultic religions of two millennia ago where like modern Freemasonry: not a ideology one could just go and read about on Wikipedia, but one where people were slowly initiated in the thought and mindset of the religion over time. While people were born into Paganism, they were initiated into Gnosticism, Hermeticism or even early Christianity. The only difference is that you are being initiated out of the cultural bubble of modernism. Into what? It can vary person to person, experience to experience. You'll always be in some bubble, so don't be arrogant, but you will be out of the big bubble that's going to pop everywhere and is dominated by liberal cat-ladies, professors, sanctimonious NGO-members and journalists.

All of this is to say that it is simply impossible for me to provide you direct direction. Even direction might sound stupid before or after. Maybe I can lay out some random disorganized recommendations.

Also, you can be red-pilled too quickly and end up like that guy in the Matrix who looks like me and betrays his friends so he can be put back in the matrix to have nice juicy steaks again. Did he make an appearance in Runescape as well?

Anyway, I wrote more of this than I thought I was going to, and I never got to reason two! I'll write it tomorrow after church. You can read it once you get back from church providing it isn't banned where you live.

Speaking of church, for those interested in early Christian theology, or frankly Greek philosophy generally, notice how similar 名 name/word "míng" in the Chinese above is equivalent to logos. In fact, 名 is even used both in the particular sense "the name that you speak" as I render it, and in the universal abstract sense of logos. This pun, which doesn't exist in English without some explanation, does exist in both classical Chinese and Greek. More on that later.


34/51 - My diet following the memes

Abiding by an ideological "diet" is pure autism. It's peak dystopian, actually. Identifying with some meme diet you've become rationally convinced of is like identifying by the music you listen to or some autistically-differentiated political label. It's something people only do in a bugman society when they've been deprived of their real identity.

Nonetheless, I occasionally get questions about what I eat and as I go on, my functional diet changes, but interesting patterns emerge. Nowadays you've had meme diets from Atkins to Paleo to this new keto meme; all of them circulate around the idea that the food pyramid is a lie, and meats and fats are severely underrated. In my experience, I'm very inclined to agree. In fact, one of the realities of nutrition "science" is that a lot of the jack-booting, tone-setting and "advocacy" has always been done by either Jehovah's Witnesses or vegetarians, two parties who have ideological motivations to downplay the good of meat and to overplay the good of "slave foods" like cereals and starchy staples. I'm not bothered by their ethical pretenses, but it's a whole nother thing to pretend that they're based in the reality of what's good for humans aside from pietisms.

First, for my younger viewers, you'll realize as you get "old" (as you leave puberty at least around 25), your digestive abilities and metabolism change. The young digestive system is much more plastic and durable than someone in the late 20s and on. You've probably heard that you'll put on weight more easier if you eat pizza, true for most people, but for me, I've found that it's increasingly difficult even to properly digest greasy pizza, junk food, sugars and everything processed and terrible about the modern world. As you get a little older, you really can feel the debilitatingly negative hormonal effects of carbo-loading. You get acid-reflux and indigestion more too. Domino's is a one-way ticket to diarrhea. Hell, a couple weeks ago in a silly attempt to put on empty weight, I bought and ate a meek-and-mild Cheerios knock-off and let's just say that came out looking about the same as they went in.

Don't worry, I'm not falling apart. The solution has been easy. Stop eating processed foods. Stop eating sugar. And Stop eating the Virgin Bottom-of-the-Food-Pyramid. Just eat meat.

I don't eat only meat now, but I abandoned the pretense and can acknowledge that meals are nothing more than a serving of meat with some other mostly decorative foods. I have some vegetables and fruits here and there, and I do go out to eat and get a sandwich (with bread of course) every once in a while. I'll say that I've realized that I can detect a little digestive difference between meat treated with antibiotics and that without. Might be confirmation bias, but I prefer untreated or organic meat and will buy it if it's not too much more expensive. Typical meals include:

Oh and I use olive oil for all of these. None of that Cucknola oil BS. I'm also not big on salt.

And by the way, stop believing Nutrition Facts autism. The reality of nutrition "science" is that the body is a machine far more complex than we understand. The idea that our body needs precisely that 100% of all of those substances that the American government proclaimed back in the 70s is ridiculous. For the same reason, sorry, but eating something with another random protein (like le soy) isn't a substitute for the actual nourishment of meat. My scientific proof is the diminished physical and hormonal state of vegans. Some people will tell them they need B12 or something else, but it's far beyond that. Regardless "diet" foods/sodas are the same. They only exist so they look good on the nutrition facts. They produce equivalent tastes and fill your stomach with things that you're body can't digest and turn into calories/energy. In a sane society, that would be identified as being something way worse than the thing they're supposed to be replacing.


35/51 - I will be at Southeast Linuxfest 2022 (June 10-12) in Charlotte, NC.

Title says the gist.

In 2018, I went to Southeast Linuxfest and gave a presentation which you can see here or . It was nice meeting the (shockingly normal) people who knew me from the interest last time.

I’m going to be attending again this year, as the title says June 10-12 in Charlotte, NC. I’ve already had one talk confirmed (and might actually be giving two).

If you are interested in going, see their site. The conference itself is at the Sheraton near the Charlotte Airport and they still have some rooms on their block left now, but order ASAP if you want to stay in the building. Obviously there are many other hotels to stay at nearby too (I stayed elsewhere last time).

Last time, I went with a group of others and skipped the presentations on Sunday morning to go to church services. I’ll probably do that again, although obviously this time we’ll attend an Orthodox church TBD so come with some reverent attire.


36/51 - Based.Cooking has become more grandma-usable.

Over the past month, I’ve taken some off-time to tinker with Based.Cooking, the cooking site I/we made a year or so ago as a proof of concept for a simple and unintrusive recipe website. There have been over 250 recipes submitted, but the hobbled-together static site generator originally used proved unable to keep up and with all the submissions, there was a big issue of content organization.

There have been two big changes. Firstly, I ported the entire site to use Hugo, which I believe I mentioned already. Hugo is just a very fast static site generator written in Go, and I particularly liked it for the ease of tagging articles. Originally, the only content sorting on Based.Cooking was a tagcloud at the top of the main page and “Related” pages at the bottom of each page.

Secondly, there had been a PR a while ago to add a search filter for the mainpage with a few lines of Javascript. I think it’s actually a fantastic illustration of the few actually useful times to use scripting in a webpage, and it allows users to instantaneously to search existing recipes by title and tag without extra page loads and with handy responsive CSS.

Note also that tags now can be assigned emojis (via CSS, weirdly enough). I’m just playing around with this. It might be visually jarring for some, so I might change it.

I might make some more strides to make the site more normie-friendly, since I see it more than a proof-of-concept. Keep in mind that the Github repo is here if you want to add recipes or suggest other changes. I had said earlier that I wanted to cut down on the acceptance of new recipes for fear of crowding the main page. This is less of an issue with the search filter, so feel free to submit whatever you think it worthy.

If you cook something on the site without a photo (or at least without a good one), feel free to submit that as well.


37/51 - 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.


38/51 - 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."

You can see sites that collect these internet artifacts (both the good ones and boring ones) here and here.

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.)


39/51 - 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.


40/51 - YouTube stream now

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


41/51 - 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.


42/51 - Late livestream on YouTube ASAP

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

I'll begin before the top of the hour.


43/51 - 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.


44/51 - Livestream on YouTube right now

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


45/51 - 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.


46/51 - 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


47/51 - Livestream on YouTube within an hour or so

See the link here:

https://youtu.be/Jq9ZKvsJSJI


48/51 - 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.


49/51 - 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


50/51 - 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 parsibility
output="$(awk 2>/dev/null '
    /<title>/ {printf "
" 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.


51/51 - YouTube Channel Deletion

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.

You can donate to me even without having extra money by using my affiliate links.

If you do have spare money:

"What are they giving you strikes for?"

To be clear, before this year, I never received any strikes, but now I've received a warning and two strikes all for old videos.

I will emphasize that this is merely the sign of either: (1) coordinated third-party mass-reports or (2) YouTube specifically and arbitrarily adopting new standards in a bid to remove the channel.

The strikes are for the following very innocent videos:

This is the arbitrariness of Google today. If my channel survives the storm of these strikes (which I severely doubt) expect me to be using PeerTube and Odysee as primary platforms. From now on, my YouTube exists to lead people to more healthy places.


News

Hacker News

Items count = 30

1/30 - Recommendations for Japan Travel

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2/30 - Building a Virtual Machine Inside ChatGPT

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3/30 - Placing #1 in Advent of Code with GPT-3

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4/30 - Building an interpreter for my programming language with ChatGPT

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5/30 - Iran abolishes controversial morality police

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6/30 - Emacs should become a Wayland compositor

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7/30 - Apple to move 40-45% iPhone production to India

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8/30 - On the Joy of Reading Slowly

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9/30 - Show HN: Using Vim as an input method editor (IME) for X11 apps

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10/30 - PhilTel is looking to install free payphones in Philadelphia

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11/30 - MSN replaced journalists with AI publishing fake news about mermaids and Bigfoot

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12/30 - The Constitution of Athens

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13/30 - Game Engine Black Book: Doom [pdf]

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14/30 - Cognitive ability is a powerful predictor of political tolerance

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15/30 - It’s Time for ‘Maximum Viable Product’

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16/30 - Fosshost Is Shutting Down

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17/30 - WTF Is T_paamayim_nekudotayim (2013)

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18/30 - Magma: Open-source carrier-grade wireless networking platform for rural areas

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19/30 - Creating a modifiable gzipped disk image

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20/30 - Paralympian claims Canada offered to euthanise her when she asked for stairlift

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21/30 - Why the Future Is Analog

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22/30 - List for Lego Machine Learning

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23/30 - Gameboy Doctor: debug and fix your gameboy emulator

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24/30 - Rackspace Cloud Office suffers security breach

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25/30 - Convincing ChatGPT to Eradicate Humanity with Python Code

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26/30 - The U.S. military is poisoning Okinawa

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27/30 - On the Gift of Longhand

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28/30 - MagSpoof: Wireless Magstrip Spoofer

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29/30 - A History of Encabulation

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30/30 - Show HN: A web front end for your Org-files

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News

Lobsters

Items count = 25

1/25 - Twenty five thousand dollars of funny money

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2/25 - Building A Virtual Machine inside ChatGPT

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3/25 - buck2: Build system, successor to Buck

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4/25 - x86 Quine: 12 Bytes of Machine Code That Print Themselves (2005)

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5/25 - Gameboy Doctor: debug and fix your gameboy emulator

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6/25 - Using comptime to invert bijective functions on enums

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7/25 - Go will add support for wrapping multiple errors in 1.20

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8/25 - Adventures in Advent of Code

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9/25 - Creating a modifiable gzipped disk image

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10/25 - Origins of the ASCII Smiley Character (2011)

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11/25 - EmacsConf - 2022

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12/25 - How the 8086 processor's microcode engine works

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13/25 - The Trusted Platform Module Key Hierarchy

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14/25 - Datasette’s new JSON write API: The first alpha of Datasette 1.0

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15/25 - Building an ASCII Particle Engine in Janet

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16/25 - Super Charging Fine-Grained Reactive Performance

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17/25 - Magic Cap, from the Magic Link to the DataRover and the stuff in-between

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18/25 - Racket meet-up Saturday 3 December at 18:00 UTC :racket

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19/25 - James Mickens Keynote, USENIX Security 2018

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20/25 - Scaling Mastodon: The Compendium

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21/25 - Clerk Garden: a simple publishing space for Clerk notebooks

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22/25 - Looking at the Python documentation can be dangerous

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23/25 - Solving Rock-Paper-Scissors in Type-level Haskell

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24/25 - I tried ChatGPT from OpenAI and my mind was blown

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25/25 - VimWiki release v2022.12.02

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