Sat 16 Oct 2021 06:45:01 AM EDT

News

LaPresse.ca - Actualités

Items count = 10

1/10 - Longueuil | Une course à quatre axée sur le transport et l’habitation

Transports collectifs, habitation, environnement : les enjeux propres à Longueuil, sur la Rive-Sud de Montréal, sont nombreux. Si tous les candidats à la mairie sont convaincus d’avoir le « meilleur plan » pour s’attaquer au manque de mobilité et à la crise du logement abordable, ils n’ont pas tous les mêmes priorités.


2/10 - Avant de traiter les juges de rétrogrades

L’affaire semble déjà entendue.


3/10 - Ensemble Montréal | Une candidate a déjà été au cœur d’un scandale financier

Une candidate de Denis Coderre s’est retrouvée au cœur d’un scandale financier et a même vu, en 2006, sa maison saisie pour rembourser des épargnants qui estimaient être victimes de fraude, a appris La Presse.


4/10 - Préposés aux bénéficiaires | « Au bout d’un moment, c’est intenable »

Après un an de service en CHSLD, les préposés aux bénéficiaires ayant reçu la formation accélérée déplorent des conditions de travail « très, très difficiles », parfois « intenables » et surtout loin des promesses du gouvernement Legault. Un dur constat que partagent autant ceux qui ont quitté le navire… que ceux qui restent.


5/10 - C’est pas une pénurie, c’est une hémorragie

Récapitulons…


6/10 - Un jeune pirate montréalais écope de 18 mois de détention à domicile

Le Montréalais Samy Bensaci, qui a reconnu avoir piraté les téléphones de cinq victimes dans le but de leur dérober leurs portefeuilles de cryptomonnaies, a reçu une peine de 18 mois de détention à domicile pour ses crimes « sérieux, sophistiqués et prolongés » dans le temps. Il pourrait cependant devoir faire face à de nouvelles accusations, a affirmé son avocat.


7/10 - Appels urgents pour réunir les familles haïtiennes

Slandie n’a pas vu ses jeunes garçons depuis trois ans. Jean Rody, lui, n’a pas encore rencontré sa fille de 4 ans. Osena, elle, tente sans succès de faire venir ici le fils de son défunt mari – préposé aux bénéficiaires terrassé par la COVID-19 à Montréal en 2020. Au moment où Haïti est plongé dans une grave crise politique et économique, des membres de la communauté haïtienne au Québec et des avocats en immigration plaident pour accélérer la réunification familiale. Un dossier de Caroline Touzin


8/10 - Eau contaminée à Iqaluit | « On a besoin de nouvelles infrastructures »

La fonte du pergélisol pourrait être en cause


9/10 - Estrie | Un face-à-face fait deux blessés graves à Cleveland

Deux automobilistes luttent pour leur vie à la suite d’un face-à-face survenu vendredi en fin d’après-midi sur la route 116 à Cleveland, en Estrie.


10/10 - Inconduite sexuelle | Le plus haut gradé des ressources humaines de l’armée sous enquête

La police militaire dit enquêter sur des allégations « historiques » d’inconduite sexuelle impliquant un autre commandant supérieur, cette fois l’officier responsable des ressources humaines des Forces armées canadiennes.


News

CBC | Top Stories News

Items count = 20

1/20 - Canadian politicians warn of political violence after U.K. MP is stabbed to death

1235898009

Shocked and saddened by the killing of a long-serving British MP on Friday, Canadian politicians say the threat of a similar incident in Canada appears to be growing.


2/20 - Where's the line on who gets COVID booster shots?

SURREY VACCINATION

Many Canadians are wondering why more people are eligible for booster shots in countries like the U.S. and Israel. Immunologists and infectious disease experts say the guidelines in Canada make scientific sense.


3/20 - Global tax accord could earn Canada up to $4.5 billion per year, says Freeland

Trudeau Freeland 20211006

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada stands to make as much as $4.5 billion dollars a year through a landmark deal involving 136 countries that will require the world's largest corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.


4/20 - Does the U.S. need a trillion-dollar coin?

JFK Coin

As another showdown over the debt ceiling looms, experts say the whole thing could be put to rest by simply minting a $1 trillion coin.


5/20 - Pandemic brings new creativity and scaring tactics to haunts across Canada

People-eating couch

Halloween is back on, but the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing about changes in the haunt industry.


6/20 - Searching for hope in midst of addictions and housing crises, Dryden, Ont., focuses on young people

Nancy Rosaasen

As the small Ontario city of Dryden deals with its growing addictions and homelessness crises, officials focus on creating connections for young people.


7/20 - Alphonso Davies emerging as the Christine Sinclair of Canadian men's soccer team

SOC Panama Canada 20211013

Coach John Herdman paid young star Alphonso Davies the ultimate compliment after Canada's 4-1 win over Panama on Wednesday, comparing him to Christine Sinclair, the greatest soccer player in Canadian history.


8/20 - Lee Valley warns customers of delays of up to 1 year, higher prices to come

empty shelves retail supply chain

Ottawa-based Lee Valley Tools has a bleak warning for anyone looking to buy high-end garden shears, brass escutcheons or crokinole boards any time soon: good luck. The home and garden company is just the latest retailer to note massive problems getting products from suppliers and manufacturers to the shelves.


9/20 - Suspect in custody after 4 injured in violent attacks in downtown Calgary

downtown violent assault ctrain

Calgary police have a suspect in custody after four people were injured in a series of random attacks in the downtown core early Friday morning that sent three victims to hospital.


10/20 - Fatal stabbing of U.K. MP declared terrorist incident by police

Britain Lawmaker Attacked


11/20 - Alberta to gain 3 seats, Quebec to lose 1 in redrawing of ridings

Exterior view of Ottawa's Peace tower

Quebec is slated to lose one seat in the next redrawing of federal ridings in Canada, seeing its 78 seats reduced to 77 — the first time since 1966 that a province has lost a seat when the electoral map is reconfigured.


12/20 - Real estate agents caught on hidden camera breaking the law, steering buyers from low-commission homes

Real estate steering

A CBC Marketplace investigation has found that some real estate agents are breaking the law by steering unwitting buyers away from low-commission homes. 


13/20 - U.S. confirms it will accept Canadian travellers with mixed vaccines

Canada US Border Crossing, BC

Following weeks of speculation, the United States announced late Friday it will accept mixed vaccines when new rules kick in on Nov. 8 requiring all foreign travellers to the country to be fully vaccinated.


14/20 - Earthquake on Indonesia resort island Bali kills at least 3

Indonesia Earthquake

Three people were killed and another seven were injured when a moderately strong earthquake and an aftershock hit Indonesia's resort island of Bali early Saturday.


15/20 - N.B. employees told to stop making Indigenous title acknowledgments, but won't face repercussions if they do

Public Safety Minister and Attorney General Ted Flemming

In a memo to all provincial staff, New Brunswick Attorney General Ted Flemming ordered that no "territorial or title acknowledgements" be made in reference to First Nations lands.


16/20 - Alberta's reporting of comorbidities questioned after boy, 14, removed from COVID-19 death count

Nathanael Spitzer

Nine months after being diagnosed with a Stage 4 brain tumour — and two days after his family says he tested positive for COVID-19 — Nathanael Spitzer of Ponoka, Alta., died in hospital.


17/20 - Albertans to vote on keeping daylight savings time year-round

Albertans to vote on keeping daylight savings time year-round

Daylight Saving Time is on the ballot for Alberta's upcoming municipal elections. Voters will decide whether to switch to permanent daylight time, a switch which some experts are warning against.


18/20 - Ben Affleck and Matt Damon write first film together since Good Will Hunting

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon write first film together since Good Will Hunting

Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Nicole Holofcener teamed up to write up the new historic epic, “The Last Duel," and talk to Andrew Chang about what’s changed with women’s rights and what hasn’t.


19/20 - Bill Clinton's health 'trending in the right direction' but will remain in hospital

USA-CLINTON/

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton's health is improving but he will remain in a California hospital for at least another night to receive antibiotics intravenously for a urological infection that spread to his bloodstream, his spokesperson said on Friday.


20/20 - With average prices up another 14%, Swiss bank UBS warns of housing bubbles in Canada

173379

Average house prices rose 14 per cent in the past year, new data shows Friday, as Swiss bank UBS says Toronto and Vancouver markets are in the midst of two of the biggest housing bubbles in the world.


News

Lifehacker

Items count = 25

1/25 - What's Next for Booster Doses?

In the latest chapter of the booster vaccine saga, the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel voted this week that they consider Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses to be safe and effective. This means they could be authorized soon, but a bunch of questions remain to be answered.

Read more...


2/25 - How Each Full Moon Got Its Name (and When to See Them)

This month’s hunter’s moon got me thinking about moon names, and wondering if the full moon in every month has its own name. Spoiler: It does.

Read more...


3/25 - 18 Halloween Thrillers That Are Scary but Not Gory

I give director James Wan an awful lot of credit. After making a boatload of money creating the Saw franchise (a series of movies that popularized the term “torture porn”), he turned around and reinvented the spooky haunted house genre in Insidious and The Conjuring. Tastes in thrillers vary wildly, but it’s hard to…

Read more...


4/25 - Don’t Deny Yourself a 'Sad Girl Autumn'

Adele’s first single “Easy on Me” in six years just dropped, yet for some reason, many of us are expected to keep working and living as normal today. One thing is clear: With the combination of releases from Adele, Mitski, and Taylor Swift, “sad girl autumn” is about to be in full swing.

Read more...


5/25 - What to Do If Your Partner Turns Into a Conspiracy Theorist

Everyday people get sucked into conspiracy theories and violent movements all the time, although the process happens slowly. It starts small. YouTube’s algorithm might offer up an edgy, offensive video, which leads to more edgy, offensive videos. From there, someone can move to unsettling Reddit posts, Facebook…

Read more...


6/25 - Can a 30-Year-Old Book Teach a 40-Year-Old How to Skate?

My brain refuses to accept the fact that the 1990s ended 21 years ago—it definitely seems like it should only be 10, right?—and I’m having similar trouble coming to terms with the fact that I recently entered my fifth decade of existence. In my head anyway, I’m still roughly the same in every way as I was in my early…

Read more...


7/25 - How to Hang a Picture With Near-Perfect Accuracy on the First Try

There are many times in life when we hear a bit of information and incredulously mutter to ourselves, Duh. Of course I knew that. Who doesn’t know that?! And then there are times when we learn something so simple, so basic, and that solves such a persistent, annoying (albeit small) pain point in our everyday…

Read more...


8/25 - Should You Subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online’s Expansion Pack?

For all of Nintendo’s awards and praise, one area the company consistently draws criticism is its online experience. Compared to competitors like Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo has always been behind in letting people play games with friends and purchase digital content. The company is trying to improve, though, with a…

Read more...


9/25 - This Classic Margarita Is My Ride or Die Cocktail

Nine years ago today, my partner and I went on our first date. Of course, I didn’t know it was a date at the time, and neither did he—we were acquainted through music and had played shows together, so when he was passing through the Bay Area (where I was then living) on tour, he asked me if I wanted to meet him in San…

Read more...


10/25 - How to Tell Someone You’re Only Interested in Sex Without Sounding Like a Jerk

The headline here is optimistic. If you tell someone who has feelings for you that you don’t want to date them, but you do want to sleep with them, you probably will sound like an asshole. But we have a few tips on how to sound less like one. You’re not actually a bad person, but when feelings are involved, it’s easy…

Read more...


11/25 - How to Make Old PC Games Look (and Play) Better on a Newer Computer

One of the best things about being a PC gamer is that it’s almost always possible to get your old games running on your new computer. However, unlike playing retro console games on modern TVs, there’s no universal solution for making that happen. Owing to the myriad hardware and software configurations you might be…

Read more...


12/25 - How to Temporarily Pause Your Instagram Without Deleting It (and Why You Should)

With more than one billion active users as of 2018, you’re probably on Instagram. At the same time, most of us have heard of social media’s negative effects on our mental health—we just go on Instagram to check our notifications and feed our addictions despite it. You might’ve had enough though and want to try taking…

Read more...


13/25 - Stop Throwing Your Rotting Pumpkins in the Trash (and Do This Instead)

The only thing sadder than a sunken, desiccated, mold-covered Jack-O-Lantern on your front step is one in your trash can. Even if you don’t have a compost pile in your backyard, there’s just no good reason to send your castoff Halloween decorations to the landfill—you can put them to good use in other ways. Here’s how…

Read more...


14/25 - 6 Painless Home Improvement Projects You Should Tackle Before the End of Fall

As the weather cools off, our daily gatherings and activities tend to move inside. And once we’ve hunkered down for winter, we tend to stay hunkered down for winter. That means now is the time to tackle those last little home improvement projects to spruce up the exterior of your house and prep it for winter. That…

Read more...


15/25 - How to Groom Your Dog at Home Without Traumatizing Them

When your dog gets a little stinky, shaggy, or long in the nail, you know it’s time to groom them...but it can be hard to find the money or time to bring them to a professional. The semi-good news: Unless the fur situation is wildly out of control, you can do some maintenance grooming all by yourself. The semi-bad…

Read more...


16/25 - The Out-of-Touch Adults' Guide to Kid Culture: Why's 'The Black Phone' so Popular?

This week, kids and teens are watching the trailer for upcoming horror flick The Black Phone, opining about Willy Wonka’s outfit, and signaling with red flags. What does it all mean? You decide.

Read more...


17/25 - 11 of the Best Free Extensions for Google Chrome

Chrome is the most popular browser on the planet, so much so that Microsoft decided to rebuild its entire browser using Chromium, the same open-source engine that drives Chrome. It’s versatile and fast, but what sets Chrome apart is how extensible it can be thanks to a huge variety of extensions that add extra…

Read more...


18/25 - 13 Beloved ‘Traditions’ That Are Really Just Marketing

From green bean casserole on the Thanksgiving dinner table to the dutiful reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by American school children, many of our cherished traditions and beliefs are actually based—at least in part—on good old-fashioned marketing and advertising. It’s part of what makes Capitalism fun!

Read more...


19/25 - 9 of the Best Apps to 'Gamify' Your Life (and Why You Should)

Have you considered turning your life into a video game? And no, we’re not referring to this TikTok trend.

Read more...


20/25 - This Compatibility Test Can Help New Parents Make (and Keep) the Friends They So Desperately Need

After you have a baby, you may be expecting to bond with all the other new parents you meet and parks, playgroups, and sing-alongs—but while those folks are certainly easy to meet, it’s surprisingly hard to keep those relationships going.

Read more...


21/25 - You Can Finally Stop Changing Twitter From Light to Dark Mode Yourself

For some, dark mode is the only mode. For others, it’s the theme they want at night. Either way, whatever your phone’s theme is, you want your apps to match. Let’s take Twitter, for example: If the rest of your phone is in dark mode, you probably don’t want your bright white tweets to burn your eyes. Here’s how to fix…

Read more...


22/25 - Is It Actually Bad to Hold Your Breath When You Lift?

You can go through most of your life without worrying about whether and how you’re breathing, but as soon as somebody mentions that you’re supposed to breathe a certain way in the gym, it’s easy to get tripped up. Out when? In when? Oops, I held my breath instead—is that bad?

Read more...


23/25 - How to Delete Your Facebook Account: A Checklist

Back in the good old days, we encouraged you to consider deleting your Facebook account because of privacy breaches that left your personal information vulnerable to nefarious bad actors the world over. And we can all still agree that isn’t great. But the last new years have given us many more reasons to want to wash…

Read more...


24/25 - How to Silence Your Trolls on TikTok

Is any social media platform truly troll-free? My theory is that LinkedIn will be our last bastion of exclusively earnest posting. In the meantime, TikTok continues to update ways for users to limit the hate and harassment thrown their way.

Read more...


25/25 - 10 New Halloween Specials to Watch With Your Kid

If you and your kids are tired of watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special over and over and over every October, these 10 new Halloween specials, special episodes, and series are kid-friendly spooky alternatives, and fresh-as-a-newly killed corpse—and all of them are …

Read more...


News

Gizmodo

Items count = 25

1/25 - Tinder Will Help You Find Wedding Dates Because Apparently Taking Strangers to Weddings Is a Thing

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t dislike Tinder. I’ve used it before to chat with singles in my area and even went on a nice date with someone from the app. You know, normal dating app things. Yet, people are apparently going on Tinder with a very different goal in mind: finding a wedding date. And I can’t…

Read more...


2/25 - Ransomware Hackers Reportedly Targeted 3 Different U.S. Water Facilities This Year Alone

Ransomware gangs targeted multiple water facilities in the U.S. this year, a new government report claims. The news represents a frightening escalation in cybercrime—showing that hackers are increasingly willing to put people’s lives at risk for the sake of money.

Read more...


3/25 - Let Kingo's Finger Guns Point the Way to a Spate of Eternals Goodness

Sometimes it seems like millennia have passed since Marvel Studios first announced that the little-known Eternals would star in their own movie. But that movie is finally less than a month away, right around the proverbial corner—yet there’s still hyping to be done. There’s a new clip to check out, an extremely…

Read more...


4/25 - Doctor Who's Trailer Promises a Dramatic End to Jodie Whittaker's Final Run

The end is in sight for Jodie Whittaker’s groundbreaking run as the title star of the Doctor Who—but it’s not time to bid farewell just yet. We’ve got quite a fight to get through first!

Read more...


5/25 - Here's What the HomePod Needs to Actually Be Good

Apple hasn’t given up on its HomePod smart speaker. According to a new Bloomberg report, the company has hired a new software head for the device in a bid to make a speaker that can compete with Google and Amazon’s. But the HomePod needs a lot more than new leadership (though that might help) to be a smart speaker…

Read more...


6/25 - Tesla Is Rolling Out a New Insurance Program With Rates Calculated by Surveilling Drivers

After two years of offering car insurance to drivers across California, Tesla’s officially bringing a similar offering to clientele in its new home state of Texas. As Electrek first reported, the big difference between the two is how drivers’ premiums are calculated: in California, the prices were largely determined…

Read more...


7/25 - Massive Rift Detected in Arctic’s ‘Last Refuge of Ice’

During spring 2020, a temporary gap the size of Rhode Island appeared in the sea ice to the north of Canada’s northernmost island. Troublingly, this rift is located in the so-called “Last Ice Area”—a frozen expanse that’s expected to host the last remnants of Arctic sea ice as our world gets continually warmer.

Read more...


8/25 - After Woman's Tumor Unexpectedly Shrinks, Her Doctors Wonder If CBD Oil Played a Role

Doctors in the UK say they’ve come across an unusual case of cancer recovery: A woman in her 80s whose lung cancer began to shrink without any conventional treatment, after she started taking daily doses of CBD/THC oil. Though it’s far from clear that the oil actually affected her tumor, the doctors argue that…

Read more...


9/25 - This Week's Toy News Has Killer Babies, Killer Doggos, and a Killer Ride

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the latest and greatest merch news around. This week, Elon Musk forms an unlikely partnership with Mattel to get his cybertruck off the ground, Nerf gets into the fort game, and that gorgeous Gargoyles Goliath gets a much-needed friend. Check it out!

Read more...


10/25 - Netflix Has Fired a Pregnant Organizer of the Trans Employee Walkout

The Dave Chappelle-induced meltdown at Netflix continued apace on Friday after reports emerged that the company had fired a pregnant leader of its transgender employee resource group who had played an instrumental role in organizing an upcoming Oct. 20 work stoppage.

Read more...


11/25 - If Anyone's Seen This Mildly Radioactive Device, Let the Cops Know. Also, Don't Touch It.

Authorities in Pennsylvania are on the lookout for a missing nuclear gauge, the likes of which disappeared from a local worksite and contains radioactive material. Should you somehow stumble upon it, you’re strongly encouraged to notify the police. But also, stay the hell away from it.

Read more...


12/25 - Ron Watkins, the 8chan Troll and QAnon Evangelist, Says He's Running for Congress

Online creeper and far-right conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins has filed the necessary paperwork and on Thursday announced his intent to run for Congress in the state of Arizona in 2023.

Read more...


13/25 - Revisit Day of the Dead for a Reminder That Sometimes Zombies Deserve to Win

Today marks the debut of Day of the Dead, a new Syfy TV series that takes inspiration from George A. Romero’s 1985 zombie classic of the same name. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the show’s creators explained that the series—set during the first 24 hours of a zombie apocalypse—will pay homage to the film but will…

Read more...


14/25 - Big Mouth's New Season Looks Buggy as Hell

Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg’s Big Mouth has been exploring the dark, wacky, and incredibly gross pitfalls of puberty for four seasons, and... that’s not going to change. The new trailer for the fifth season of Netflix’s hit animated series reveals even more monsters are coming to torment the teens—and to…

Read more...


15/25 - The Disappointing New Windows 11 Emojis Are Yet Another Reason to Stick With Windows 10

There are plenty of reasons why you might not be rushing out to upgrade to Windows 11. Emojis might be low on that list, but the fact that Microsoft isn’t delivering on the three-dimensional pop-out emoji it promised us months ago is not a great sign.

Read more...


16/25 - Instacart's Embattled Gig Workers Are Going On a Nationwide Strike

Protesting what they characterize as low wages and a lack of consistent communication from corporate, gig workers on the grocery delivery app Instacart are poised to begin a nationwide work stoppage on Saturday.

Read more...


17/25 - Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Morpheus Could Explain Some Crucial Lore in Matrix Resurrections

Of the many mysteries revolving around The Matrix Resurrections, the situation with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s new incarnation of Morpheus has been particularly interesting because of what it suggests about the direction the new movie’s story may take.

Read more...


18/25 - The ABCs of Big Oil: How Big Oil Killed Our Political Imagination

On The ABCs of Big Oil, a new podcast miniseries produced in collaboration with Drilled, my co-host Amy Westervelt and I have been exploring the oil and gas industry’s infiltration of grade school curricula to promote the false idea that humanity needs fossil-fueled capitalism to survive. This week, we’re moving on up…

Read more...


19/25 - A New Look Inside the Latest Thrawn Book Reintroduces a Very Familiar Chiss

Timothy Zahn’s two Thrawn trilogies have done a lot to casually re-integrate elements of his highly influential work in the Expanded Universe back into Star Wars’ contemporary canon, especially when it comes to the inner workings of the Chiss Ascendancy. But after books of teasing, the author is putting the spotlight…

Read more...


20/25 - Tiny Gas Explosions Create the Raised Dots on This Electronic Braille Display

Creating dynamic Braille displays that can quickly change their pattern of dots isn’t a new idea, but the existing solutions are often big boxes with complex mechanisms used to raise and lower an array of rounded pins. Researchers from Cornell University are working on an explosive new approach that could produce…

Read more...


21/25 - New Zealand Lays Off Its Official City Wizard After 23 Years of Loyal Service

Since 1998, UK-born Ian Brackenbury has been paid a solid $16,000 NZD (roughly 11,300 USD) per year to be the official wizard for the city of Christchurch in New Zealand. Now after slightly more than two decades on the city’s payroll, authorities are officially cutting ties with Brackenbury in an attempt to modernize…

Read more...


22/25 - Star Trek: Lower Deck's Mike McMahan Breaks Down Season 2's Themes and That Epic Finale

Another season of Star Trek: Lower Decks has come to an end, but this time, the show has evolved into a whole new level of trials and tribulations for the crew of the Cerritos. To look back on season two and unpack some of those twists from the finale, io9 chatted with showrunner Mike McMahan to uncover what to expect…

Read more...


23/25 - Fine, the Monarchy Is Good (Just This One Time)

As the world starts looking to Glasgow for the United Nations climate talks happening later this month, the British royals are saying what we’re all thinking. Namely, billionaires need to stop obsessing about space tourism, and world leaders need to get off their ass and come to the talks.

Read more...


24/25 - Recurring Water Vapor Potentially Found on Europa—but Just on One Side

The icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa appears to be continually feeding its thin atmosphere with water vapor, according to Hubble observations made from 1999 to 2015.

Read more...


25/25 - Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, and the Magical Thinking About Bitcoin’s Ability to Fix Texas’ Grid

This week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he will make Texas the number one state for bitcoin. What’s more, he espoused the wonders of crypto mining as a way to prop up the state’s flailing electrical grid, a view Cancun-loving Sen. Ted Cruz also shared at a bitcoin mining conference last week. It’s a seductive story:…

Read more...


News

io9 | Gizmodo

Items count = 25

1/25 - Let Kingo's Finger Guns Point the Way to a Spate of Eternals Goodness

FINGER GUNS!
Screenshot: Marvel Studios

Sometimes it seems like millennia have passed since Marvel Studios first announced that the little-known Eternals would star in their own movie. But that movie is finally less than a month away, right around the proverbial corner—yet there’s still hyping to be done. There’s a new clip to check out, an extremely stylish guide to some of the Eternals themselves, and just a taste of star Kumail Nanjiani being awesome.

Let’s get the clip out of the way first; it’s titled “Run,” and it’s an expanded version of the scene from the trailer where the Eternals save a young kid from the Deviants:

I very much assumed the clip was titled “Run” because Ikaris (Richard Madden) or Kingo (Nanjiani) would have told that dumb kid to run, but clearly it’s referring to the super-speed of Makkari (The Walking Dead’s Lauren Ridloff), which she uses to save the kid and spirit the rest of the primitive humans under attack to safety.

Unfortunately, Makkari’s not one of the Eternals featured—yet—in these tiny, but very stylish bio vids from the Marvel HQ YouTube channel. But given that the Eternals still aren’t well known (in either the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the real world) you could spend your time in less productive ways. Here’s Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ajak (Salma Hayek), and Kingo:

You can head here to watch the vids for Ikaris and Thena, and then you can keep an eye out because surely Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Druig (Barry Keoghan), and Makkari are on the way.

Finally, Kingo and Ajak’s alter egos were on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night to promote the film and, uh, talk about Keanu Reeves’ ass, apparently. But they also discussed Kingo’s superpower, which as you can see in the clip up top is unquestionably finger guns, and were called such on set by director Chloé Zhao herself (it starts at 8:45 in the vid):

I’ve always known in the back of my mind that the actors playing these superheroes have to do some really goofy things to provide the footage that gets augmented with VFX to look like awesome powers. But the idea of poor Kumail Nanjiani literally pretending his hands were guns, like a child would, for the entirety of filming the movie, is absolutely next-level bonkers. It’s going to be utterly impossible for me to not think about this every single time Kingo blasts something in Eternals—and now you, too, most likely. You’re welcome! Eternals is out in theaters November 5.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


2/25 - Doctor Who's Trailer Promises a Dramatic End to Jodie Whittaker's Final Run

Just hangin’ out.
Screenshot: YouTube

The end is in sight for Jodie Whittaker’s groundbreaking run as the title star of the Doctor Who—but it’s not time to bid farewell just yet. We’ve got quite a fight to get through first!

After all, there’s an entire (admittedly rather short) season of TV yet to arrive, along with three more special episodes as she passes the torch to... whoever’s next in the role. But let’s not worry about that torch-passing just yet, because the trailer for her final, six-episode (thanks, covid) season, titled Doctor Who: Flux, has just landed.

As an earlier teaser promised, the Flux is bringing “the Sontarans, the Weeping Angels, creatures known as the Ravagers, and enemies from across the universe,” and indeed it looks like our heroes are in for a hell of a battle... Cybermen, too? It’s an all-star array of villains!

Whittaker’s not the only one departing from Doctor Who after season 13; as previously announced, showrunner Chris Chibnall will also be leaving the show—and series veteran Russell T. Davies, who shepherded the modern Doctor Who revival in 2005, will be coming back aboard for season 14. His 2023 return coincides with the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who, and the BBC promises his return will be “explosive,” the implications of which probably depends on which Doctor Who fan you happen to be asking.

At any rate, Doctor Who: Flux is being billed as an “event serial,” which means it’ll follow one story throughout those six episodes, and Whittaker’s Time Lord will be joined once again by Yaz (Mandip Gill), as well as series newcomer John Bishop. The season is almost entirely written by Chibnall, with one co-writing credit for Maxine Alderton, and it’s directed by Jamie Magnus Stone and Azhur Saleem. It premieres Halloween night on BBC America.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


3/25 - This Week's Toy News Has Killer Babies, Killer Doggos, and a Killer Ride

Image: Star Ace, NECA, and Playmobil

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the latest and greatest merch news around. This week, Elon Musk forms an unlikely partnership with Mattel to get his cybertruck off the ground, Nerf gets into the fort game, and that gorgeous Gargoyles Goliath gets a much-needed friend. Check it out!


Image: Mattel

Mattel MEGA X Tesla Cybertruck

You still can’t actually buy the real thing (late 2022 is the current ETA), but for $250 you can build one. Mattel has revealed a MEGA (the company’s own brand of interlocking plastic bricks that’s compatible with other Danish toys) version of the Tesla Cybertruck that measures over a foot and a half in length when the set’s 3,000 pieces are all assembled. There’s no electric drivetrain, but the DIY Cybertruck does feature adjustable suspension, a folding tailgate, and swappable windows that include a version that comes pre-shattered. Pre-orders started today on the Mattel Creations website.


Image: Star Ace

Star Ace The Boys Billy Butcher Sixth-Scale Figure

Sure, this is, technically, an action figure of Karl Urban’s foul-mouthed renegade Billy Butcher from The Boys. Sure, Billy comes with a host of mean accessories, including a crowbar and a cattle prod, an assault rifle and a sniper rifle, an alternate head, and even a shovel for good measure. Sure, there’s even more beyond that, including a cigarette to pose with sunglasses, and all the alternate pairs of hands needed to pose with these.

You’re here for the laser baby. Honestly, you might not even be here for anything else and think the $300 asking price is worth it just for an LED-enhanced baby that shoots beams out of its eyes (it’s $260 for the version without but really, what’s wrong with you?). We won’t judge, but your wallet will come the middle of 2022. [TNI]


Image: Playmobil

Playmobil Back to The Future Part III Advent Calendar

Playmobil has only released one set featuring the iconic time-traveling DeLorean from the original Back to the Future, although the vehicle’s appearance changed across the other two films in the trilogy. The Playmobil “Back to the Future Part II Hoverboard Chase” set included a Mr. Fusion upgrade for the car, but if you want it to look like the 1950s or wild west versions of Doc Brown’s DeLorean, you’re going to need the new $35 Playmobil Back to The Future Part III Advent Calendar currently available through Amazon. In addition to replacement wheels and an engine fix that straps to the hood, the advent calendar includes 24 holiday surprises in total from the third movie in the trilogy, such as Copernicus the dog, the letter from 1885, a vintage camera and a diorama featuring the clock tower under construction, and even a Playmobil version of Mary Steenburgen’s Clara Clayton.


Image: NECA

NECA Gargoyles Bronx Figure

Remember when that cool Gargoyles Goliath figure got announced and you were like “oh wow, that’s great! Now only if it came with a pair of his wings that were folded like a cape, just how Goliath does on the show, that’d be even better.” Well... now it does, sort of? NECA has announced its latest figure in the series, Goliath’s trusty not-quite-canine companion Bronx, as well as its plans to spread accessories for figures across the Gargoyles line to both try and maintain lower consistent costs per figure but create value that encourages collectors to invest in the line beyond just the figures they actually want. Bronx at least is a natural pairing if you snagged Goliath, and it’s not like he doesn’t come with a few bonuses of his own, like a hunk of meat to play with and three swappable heads (stoic, growling, and roaring). But it’s certainly one way to make sure you try and keep up with a whole lot of toys, just in case the accessory you really want for one comes packaged elsewhere down the line. No pricing details for Bronx were revealed yet, but NECA teased more info in spring 2022. [TNI]


Image: KidKraft

KidKraft Nerf Forts

Like with paintball, there are actually lots of facilities full of random obstacles where a group of friends can run around shooting foam darts at each other with Nerf blasters. But why leave home for that when KidKraft has teamed up with Hasbro to create a series of Nerf-themed forts that can turn a backyard or large basement into a warzone? The various build-it-yourself structures have features like swinging bridges, rock climbing walls, trap doors, hidden periscopes, targets, and lots of storage for both blasters and foam ammo. The two smaller forts (on the right), the Nerf Geo Strike Headquarters and Nerf Scout Defense Post will set you back $600 each, while the more elaborate (on the left) Nerf Command Base Battle Fort is $1,500 but looks a lot larger than most New York apartments.


Image: Hasbro

Hasbro Play-Doh Grown Up Scents ‘90s Edition

If you’re among the elite few who absolutely can’t stand the smell of Play-Doh, Hasbro is expanding its collection of less-offensive “Grown Up Scents” with a new ‘90s Edition multi-pack. Available at the start of November for $13 on Amazon, the new scents included in six 4oz. cans are Eau de Boy Band, VHS Rental ‘n Chill, Pump Up the Jamz, Dial Up Delight, Mall Food Court, and Flannel Fresh. What any of these actually smell like remains to be seen, although you can probably assume that Mall Food Court will be a mix of Cinnabon, Sbarro, and Mrs. Fields—staples of malls across the country.


Image: USAopoly

USAopoly Monopoly: Queen Edition

If you grew up in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, nothing will make you feel as old as learning that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the band Queen. To commemorate the occasion, we’re getting another iteration of Monopoly (have we reached the million mark yet?) that swaps the game’s traditional railroads with rock hits like “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” six updated tokens inspired by other Queen songs (a bicycle, for example), and properties that include places the band played like Wembley Stadium and Madison Square Garden. Instead of building houses and hotels, players will build staging blocks and full concert productions on the various properties. You can grab a copy now for $45.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


4/25 - Revisit Day of the Dead for a Reminder That Sometimes Zombies Deserve to Win

Captain Rhodes (Joseph Pilato) lays down the law.
Screenshot: United Film Distribution Company

Today marks the debut of Day of the Dead, a new Syfy TV series that takes inspiration from George A. Romero’s 1985 zombie classic of the same name. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the show’s creators explained that the series—set during the first 24 hours of a zombie apocalypse—will pay homage to the film but will mostly strive to tell its own story. Those are agreeable enough terms because there’s no such thing as too much horror on TV. But using the name Day of the Dead while not really resembling Day of the Dead in story or tone feels a bit duplicitous. On the other hand, Day of the Dead really needs no improvement or update.

Though it’s traditionally been the least-vaunted entry in Romero’s trilogy that also includes Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead still holds up as an excellently tense, extremely gory (Tom Savini’s genius strikes again, with an assist from Greg Nicotero among others) example of how nihilism and, in a weird way, hope can somehow coexist in a single story. Shifting from the Pittsburgh environs of Romero’s first two zombie films, Day of the Dead takes place in Florida—evidenced by the opening scene’s helicopter fly-over of a beachy town populated by zombified tourists and at least one giant alligator. But there are no tropical dreams for protagonist Sarah (Lori Cardille), only persistent nightmares, since the horror of being alive during an undead takeover is only slightly greater than the circumstances of her survival. As part of a team of scientists trying to figure out how to cure or eradicate the zombie problem, Sarah’s the sole woman living in an underground missile silo amid a few colleagues and a group of military men led by the macho Captain Rhodes (Joseph Pilato). The soldiers were originally tasked with protecting the researchers but have gotten more foul-mouthed, racist, controlling, leering, and trigger-happy as the weeks pass.

Even more than Romero’s first two Dead films, Day of the Dead explores the existential dread that comes with wondering if you and the (mostly awful) people you’re surrounded with are all that remains of your species. The initial panic of losing supremacy on the food chain has long since subsided; now, everyone just is teetering on the edge of exhaustion. Sarah is the most practical member of the group, insisting on rules and procedures the military guys don’t bother to follow half the time—which is worrisome, because many of them pertain to the zombies they keep corralled for use in experiments, as well as the wild mob of undead that hungrily paws at their perimeter fence.

Sarah’s also the most level-headed among the science team, which is led by the increasingly unhinged Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty). He’s earned the nickname “Frankenstein” with good reason—again, all praise to Savini and his creatively disgusting ways with dripping entrails, exposed brains, and severed heads—but his quest to figure out why zombies become zombies gets sidetracked when he realizes one of the undead in his care, dubbed “Bub” (Sherman Howard), is more self-aware than the rest. A scrap of civility and normalcy comes in the form of helicopter pilot John (Terry Alexander) and radio operator Bill (Jarlath Conroy), who mostly keep to themselves—John’s point of view is that maybe humans aren’t supposed to understand what’s happening, except that it might have to do with punishment from an angry god—but become Sarah’s allies when all-out chaos descends on their makeshift community.

As Day of the Dead progresses, it becomes clear that the clashing points of view (kill the zombies; study, cure, and/or train the zombies; flee to an island and escape the zombies) are what’s going to tear the group apart—at least, until the zombies themselves get a chance to handle that in a more literal sense. Sarah tries to reason with everybody—“Maybe if we tried working together we could ease some of the tensions!”—but the only creatures in Day of the Dead who are truly working together are the ones trying to devour human flesh. It’s no new revelation that the movie is about humans losing their humanity as zombies discover theirs; “civil behavior is what distinguishes us from the lower forms” is one of the last lucid things that Dr. Logan says.

There’s no doubt what Romero’s meaning is—and his movie remains potent not just because of the loving attention it gives to special effects involving throats being ripped out and heads being ripped off, but because of the question at its core: is humanity even worth saving? Should it step aside for these new apex predators, who are obviously thriving? Though Sarah, John, and Bill make it difficult to declare that total extinction is the right answer, the rest of the characters suggest that maybe the zombies are doing us a favor. It seems unlikely that the Day of the Dead TV show, which appears to be a bit lighter in tone (though it’s worth noting it doesn’t look like it skimps on the gore), will follow that same path. But considering the state of the real world in 2021, maybe it’ll stay true to Day of the Dead’s not-so-subtle implication that humankind is getting precisely what it deserves.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


5/25 - Big Mouth's New Season Looks Buggy as Hell

Lovebugs, workin’ hard.
Screenshot: Netflix

Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg’s Big Mouth has been exploring the dark, wacky, and incredibly gross pitfalls of puberty for four seasons, and... that’s not going to change. The new trailer for the fifth season of Netflix’s hit animated series reveals even more monsters are coming to torment the teens—and to unfortunately help the teens torment each other.

The show is clearly determined to explore the twin passions of love and hate in season five, which, if you were once a teen—or, god forbid, are one currently—you know are exceedingly potent emotions at that age. And both of them can be equally miserable and destructive, unfortunately, which is why you should cut no slack to the lovebugs and the hate worms who will be tormenting Andrew (John Mulaney), Jay (Jason Mantzoukas), Jessi (Jessi Klein), Nick (Nick Kroll), and Missy (Ayo Edebiri) when the show returns, as seen in this new trailer... but that’s not all.

Yep, a Big Mouth Christmas special is on the way, complete with an impressively realized Maury the Hormone Monster puppet and, apparently, a Santa Claus with full-frontal nudity. Well, I assume. His red pants could just take a tumble and briefly expose his candy cane and sleigh bells.

Here’s the official synopsis for the show’s fifth season, via Deadline:

“Starting with ‘No Nut November’ and continuing through New Year’s Eve, Big Mouth Season 5 takes on the theme of Love & Hate with the introduction of lovebugs and hate worms, amorphous creatures that can shift between the two forms (like caterpillars and butterflies). Nick’s lovebug, Walter (Brandon Kyle Goodman), pushes Nick to pursue his feelings for Jessi until she publicly rejects him, turning Walter into a hate worm who leads Nick down a dark, rancorous path. Meanwhile, Jessi’s lovebug, Sonya (Pamela Adlon), appears as Jessi gets closer with Ali and eventually wonders if she loves her as more than a friend. Jessi and Ali’s new close bond, and joint co-opting of Missy’s affinity group, sends Missy into her own hate spiral, fueled by hate worm Rochelle (Keke Palmer). Jealousy, unrequited love, and newfound crushes abound in this new form-breaking season as the Big Mouth teens navigate 8th grade.”

Big Mouth season five premieres on November 5 on Netflix.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


6/25 - Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Morpheus Could Explain Some Crucial Lore in Matrix Resurrections

Morpheus once again fighting his way out of a building as he’s drenched in water.
Screenshot: Warner Bros.

Of the many mysteries revolving around The Matrix Resurrections, the situation with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s new incarnation of Morpheus has been particularly interesting because of what it suggests about the direction the new movie’s story may take.

With so many of the original franchise’s actors returning to reprise their roles, Abdul-Mateen II—star of Aquaman and Candyman—seemingly taking over for Laurence Fishburne has stood out and suggested that the new film likely wouldn’t pick up immediately after The Matrix Revolutions. But as new as Abdul-Mateen’s Morpheus may appear visually, when audiences meet him this fall, he’ll be coming to the screen with plenty of awareness about his predecessor’s history. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor opened up about how, after learning about who his character in the new film was, he immediately felt that it was neither his place nor desire to one-up Fishburne, who he thinks “already did what had to be done” with the Morpheus role.

The new script, Abdul-Mateen said, both respects the original incarnation of his character, while also creating a way for him to carve out a new arc and voice for him within the franchise’s larger continuing story. “I play a character who’s definitely aware of the history of the Matrix [and] the history of Morpheus,” Abdul-Mateen said. “This character is on a journey of self-discovery. There’s a lot in our story that’s about growth, defining your own path. Morpheus isn’t exempt from that.”

Though Abdul-Mateen didn’t go into detail about how the new Morpheus came to be, the actor’s comments and some of the visual similarities between the new film and the originals may point to Resurrections picking up after the events of The Matrix Online, Monolith Productions and Sony Entertainment Online’s canonical MMORPG from 2005. In The Matrix Online—which is set after Revolutions where Neo ultimately defeated Agent Smith in one instance the Matrix—Morpheus continues to rally in the real world against the Machines, who are reluctant to hand over Neo’s remains despite having agreed to an uneasy cease-fire with humanity. After Morpheus sets off a number of large-scale public attacks in the Matrix designed to reveal the constructed nature of its reality to large groups of blue pills who aren’t yet ready to be awakened, he’s eventually hunted down by a program known as the Assassin who’s hired by the Merovingian.

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

Because certain pieces of the game’s story were meant to be mysterious, there’s always been a fair amount of uncertainty and speculation within the fandom as to what exactly happened to Morpheus after the Assassin gunned him down. The game’s introduction of emergency jack-outs that allowed players to exit the Matrix at will might have provided Morpheus a way of escaping the Assassin. However, The Matrix Online’s cinematics and story pointed to the “original” Morpheus dying, and his eventually being replaced within the Matrix with a digital clone constructed by the General, the embodiment of the lead Sentinel who spearheaded the attack on Zion during the First Machine War (detailed, in part, in The Animatrix.)

While the general’s ersatz Morpheus was intended to create doubt, suspicion, and mistrust between the Machines and Humanity, the sentient program eventually came to be able to think for itself, so it’s very easy to imagine that the Morpheus we’ve been seeing in Resurrections’ trailer is a new form of this complicated program. Other characters like the Oracle have previously demonstrated how beings within the Matrix are capable of taking on new forms that, while similar to their original selves, present as physically different. That could very well be the case with this new Morpheus who clearly knows parts of this story very well despite his being completely new to audiences. Abdul Mateen also told EW, “What the viewers will come to understand is that there are many rules of the Matrix. Age, appearance, the things we identify as real, can be manipulated in that world. The Matrix is where anything is possible.”

While all of this creates a very convenient and canonically solid explanation for why Fishburne allegedly wasn’t asked to return for the new movie, it’d be a pretty big ask to expect people to recall details from a not-so-popular video game from the early aughts. More likely than not, though, The Matrix Resurrections is going to spell a significant amount of this mystery out when it hits theaters and HBO Max on December 22.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here. 


7/25 - A New Look Inside the Latest Thrawn Book Reintroduces a Very Familiar Chiss

Thrawn and Thrass, as they appear on a poster included with the Barnes & Noble exclusive edition of Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil.
Image: Jeremy Wilson/Del Rey and Lucasfilm

Timothy Zahn’s two Thrawn trilogies have done a lot to casually re-integrate elements of his highly influential work in the Expanded Universe back into Star Wars’ contemporary canon, especially when it comes to the inner workings of the Chiss Ascendancy. But after books of teasing, the author is putting the spotlight on a more emotional bond for the future Grand Admiral.

Revealed by StarWars.com in a new excerpt from the final book in the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy, Lesser Evil, is a new flashback chapter that marks our first extended time with Syndic Mitth’ras’safis, and his first encounter with Thrawn as a young merit adoptive into the Mitth Family, one of the nine ruling families of the Chiss Ascendancy. Mitth’ras’safis—Thrass to his friends—has already been re-inducted into Star Wars canon, but only through casual asides in prior books in the Thrawn Ascendancy series. We know enough that several details around the character have since been changed compared to the Thrass of the EU: he’s no longer Thrawn’s brother by blood, but they were close, and Thrass was eventually killed due to an unsanctioned action by Thrawn in a battle with alien pirates. The circumstances around his death in the current canon are left vague enough to loosely allude to, but not directly connect to, the way he died in the EU, but other than that up until now Thrass has only been lightly mentioned in passing, and how his death created a political nightmare Thrawn is still feeling the ramifications of by the time of the Ascendancy trilogy.

But in the EU, Thrass (primarily introduced in the novel Outbound Flight in 2006) and Thrawn were extremely close, a rare point of true emotional connection for the latter. Choosing to navigate the political side of Chiss society as a Syndic as Thrawn rose through the military ranks, Thrass’ arc when we were properly introduced to him was often about having to navigate his love for his brother with his duty to their adopted family in the Mitth—and the trials and tribulations that come from all sibling relationships, Chiss or otherwise. But he also had a vital connection to the galaxy beyond the Ascendancy’s reach in the Unknown Regions, dying to help save the crew of the Old Republic colony/exploration ship Outbound Flight, a vessel operated by the Jedi Order (and more specifically, the original, pre-crazy-cloned-version Jedi Master Jorus C’baoth) on an ill-fated quest to map out the edge of the galaxy and discover extragalactic life. Thrass’ role in the EU might have been small—we were literally introduced to his unidentified bones before we actually met him as a living being—but still important, and it’s nice to see a character that opened up another side of the infamously guarded Grand Admiral Thrawn get some more exploration in Star Wars’ current continuity.

Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil is set to hit shelves November 16—head on over to StarWars.com to read the full excerpt.



8/25 - Star Trek: Lower Deck's Mike McMahan Breaks Down Season 2's Themes and That Epic Finale

Cerritos strong!
Screenshot: Paramount+

Another season of Star Trek: Lower Decks has come to an end, but this time, the show has evolved into a whole new level of trials and tribulations for the crew of the Cerritos. To look back on season two and unpack some of those twists from the finale, io9 chatted with showrunner Mike McMahan to uncover what to expect from the show’s next adventures.

After a season with the underlying theme of our characters learning to trust each other—and more specifically put the best version of themselves in each other’s hands when their backs were against the wall—Lower Decks’ second season finale, “First First Contact,” put that lesson to the ultimate test. In an action-packed, high-stakes disaster unlike anything we’ve seen on the show before, Ensigns Boimler, Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford (and the whole damn Cerritos crew) were pushed to the limit. While they may have gotten out of it with the day saved, it was clear by the time that “To be Continued...” card rolled, they weren’t done fighting. To learn more about the lessons learned across Lower Decks’ second season, highlights of one of McMahan’s favorite episodes of the show so far, and what the shocks of the season finale will mean for Boimler, Mariner, Tendi, and Rutherford going forward, check out our full interview—conducted over video—with the showrunner below.


James Whitbrook, io9: When we came back into season two, there’s a bit of a reset with the characters—we get the teleporter clone of Boimler, we get Tendi and Rutherford sussing through Rutherford’s memory loss from the end of last season... can you talk about the intent of re-centering these characters after we blew them apart figuratively and in some cases literally, at the end of the first season?

Mike McMahan:
Lower Decks is really about these four ensigns, right? It’s a long-form story that I’d planned out and had really, emotionally planned out... I have a lot of episodes that are finding out, and building to, those moments. I think we’ll see there’s a couple things [that] Lower Decks fans will come to understand—which is, you won’t be able to predict what you’re going to get, and that we seem like we’re having a blast while we’re making it. Now, I never want people to feel betrayed or there was a bait-and-switch... but a headline for me on Lower Decks is... there’s a great kind of dissolution of it: the episode where Rutherford doesn’t get to know why Shaxs came back, and the reasoning behind that is there’s eight-hundred and something episodes of Star Trek—it’s all been done. Weirdly, not an episode on a Klingon ship and a Vulcan ship, that we did—I couldn’t believe hadn’t been done, but we got to do it!

But these big dramatic things, these serialized things, these things that change the show drastically... if we lean onto that stuff, we’d very quickly get into a roundabout of bumping into stuff that Deep Space Nine did, Discovery did, that Enterprise did. So, what I like to play with is how do we have characters experience and change because of these big things that maybe change who they are—and where they are for three episodes—as opposed to seasons and forever? Then have them come back to the main family, the crew of the show, and then don’t forget the experience—don’t forget that they went through this—but don’t have it change the show in order to service the storyline, where lots and lots of stories can happen... and not where we get into a bottleneck where it all becomes one story.

io9: This season we had the traditional Boimler/Mariner, Tendi/Rutherford pairings get mashed up more often—is that something we’ll get to see more of moving forward? 

McMahan: It’s so funny because we wrote the season before you guys saw season one, and we sat down and it was like... well, I’ll tell you right now. Having just watched all the cuts of season one, I was like, “We never got to see Tendi and Mariner! They’re my favorite characters. What did we do!?” It’s one of those things where there’s so many things in your head you’re trying to figure out, and you step back and you’re like, “Gah, there’s something right there the whole time that would have made my life easier.” The episode where we pair up Tendi and Mariner was explicitly a blast to write. So yeah, not only are you going to be seeing different pairings, but you’re going to seeing them because of weird things that happen. For instance, Tendi going into senior science officer training [in the finale]? That is going to be taking her on stories that nobody can come with her on. It’s like a friend getting to medical school, or something. When one of my friends went to medical school and we’d all get together and have dinner, I’d be telling stories about being a production assistant, and he’d be telling stories about holding a human heart. There’s some things you can’t go with your friends to do. So, more than pairings you don’t usually see as much, you’re going to see stories that really highlight our lower deckers on their own while still coming together as friends.

Screenshot: Paramount+

io9: Before we get into the finale, I wanted to talk about “wej Duj.” Can you talk to me about the ideation process, and how you got to the simple, but great idea of “What if we just followed three ships?”

McMahan: Part of it is that season one, I loved [episodes] nine and ten being the finale. I like ending a season on big, unexpected, form-defying but still necessary episodes. When we sat down to figure out what we were going to do [for season two], we’d just done our sketch comedy episode—I was like, “Okay, the audience has been with us for 18 episodes. They’ve got this far. Let’s give them something they’ve never seen before, more lower decks than ever before.” We also had the word “cinematic” in our head for the last couple episodes—what feels like a push of our own form, as well, and the idea that I knew that I wanted to experience lower deckers in other ships in the Federation. Pretty quickly, we got to the point where it was like “Klingons and Vulcans, that’s the patron saints, right?” Those are two of the biggest, most seen, but surprisingly not... you can still dig into them. You have Ma’ah on his ship being a bit of a Boimler analogue, and T’Lyn on her ship being a bit of a Mariner analogue. It was really the joy of talking about what are those ships and cultures like. That’s what got me really excited.

And then when I realized nobody had done a contained story on Vulcan ship in the history of Star Trek, it kind of blew me away. Because they had to have done that on Enterprise—it felt very Vulcan-heavy. And they really hadn’t. We cribbed some designs, but we had to create a ton of stuff just off the feeling of the Vulcan stuff we had heard about across the franchise. Then once we were writing it, I had to tie in the stuff with the Pakleds and ... the Pakleds are these fascistic, stupid, “don’t take us lightly” force that we have. In the real world, there are always nefarious people bankrolling these guys behind the scenes for their own kind of nefarious purposes. It just felt so Star Trek VI to have that be what’s happening. It felt cool to me to be like, “Look—the Cerritos isn’t the most important ship in the fleet. How do we have them deal with an important, big thing without them really dealing with it?” Because you don’t want them to become the Enterprise, right? So, “Oh! Have a Boimler analogue on a Klingon ship be part of the lynchpin of saving the day, and have a Mariner analogue on her Vulcan ship be part of the lynchpin of saving the day, and involve the Cerritos. Then instead of the Cerritos, it’s the lower deckers, which is the theme of Lower Decks!” That’s when everything really locked in. It would be my dream to do a live-action movie version of that, in the Wrath of Khan/TOS era. New crews and just spend a bunch of time with Klingons and Vulcans and people in ‘70s-looking wigs and stuff. I’d geek out so hard. It’s like Hunt for Red October if there were two more subs.

Screenshot: Paramount+

io9: Moving on to the finale, I wanted to congratulate you on becoming a real Star Trek series by getting to end a season with a “To Be Continued...” placard!

McMahan: Thank you! Weirdly, it came it pretty late in the process where I was like “Why aren’t we doing that? It’s a cliffhanger.” And everyone was like, “Oh yeah.”

io9: That’s what I was going to ask—why did it matter specifically to you? We end the season with Captain Freeman brushing up against Starfleet security and the aftermath of that conflict in “wej Duj,” so why was it important specifically to draw that out into this kind of cliffhanger scenario? 

McMahan: Well, “wej Duj” didn’t end. The Klingons leave and they’ve got a new boss, right? There’s obviously things that aren’t quite finished with that story which do get addressed in season three. So, I knew I wanted that. Also, we’re always trying to find these themes of finality, but also the story’s not over. So, so much stuff is wrapped up that, it really just felt like that story’s not over—and I don’t want people to wait until next season to know the story’s not over? So, the promise of the stuff they’re going to be seeing in season three is why the end on this. Also, I’ve had success with wrapping a story and beginning another story with the Titan in season one. I just like the imagination it sparks, to see how we handle it next season. Just wrapping it up with a bow feels too pat and I never liked that. This finale just gives you some heroes, and then takes away the person you believe in—that just got me really excited.

io9: Like the first season, this finale brings the focus back on Beckett and her mother Carol’s relationship—why was it important to center the heart of this finale as well on giving them a little conflict between themselves?

McMahan: It was that moment [in the season two finale] where Mariner says something she’s always assumed, and she was wrong about, which is—[she and Captain Freeman are] in the Captain’s yacht—she says, “You always defend me because you know I’m a Kirk-style free spirit, and a badass and nobody else sees it.” And her mom is like, “No! I protect you because you need protection.” I think if Freeman had ever said this to Mariner in the first season, they’d never have this conversation, and the end of the first season does make Mariner look like a badass, Kirk-style free spirit who can solve any problem. But on the bridge in this episode, it’s beyond her. Mariner’s like, “I don’t know.” And it leads to this frustrating conversation [between her and Captain Freeman] where Freeman is like, “You need to stop thinking that you’re the ultimate badass and let people in.” Which is why when she rages on that, and her friends are like “Your mom is fucking right—don’t get us killed!” That’s a moment where Mariner is like, “Yeah. I do need to let people in.” You see this thematically with, like, Boimler being brave and jumping off on his own, you see Tendi having to go and believe in herself even though she thinks it’s going to be bad [with Dr. T’Ana], you see Rutherford have to delete his backup memories and trust that’s not going to have a deeply negative effect. Then in the very end, it’s Mariner saying to Jennifer [the Andorian], “I pushed you away this whole time, let’s date.” And we see them try that in season three. It felt like a nice change of course for something we’ve been seeding a long time [with her].

Screenshot: Paramount+

io9: Speaking of Jennifer, last year we danced around Mariner’s sexuality, and now getting to see that pay off here—was it important to have that as the emotional stake here for Beckett going into season three?

McMahan: In the third season, she and Jennifer are seeing each other and there are stories we tell about that. What I would say is it’s not easy to date Mariner, and this show really is not about Mariner’s romantic relationships. It’s about how she sees herself, and how she treats friends and colleagues more than romantic partners. So, it was important to me—from the point of view of Star Trek, having these people in your life and seeing where these stories go. Mariner’s sexuality to me has always been... she seems like the kind of character who can run into a villain and awkwardly Mariner had dated him or her before. Those are the kinds of stories I really get excited about. With Mariner, there’s these historical sort of things you see with her, so... you will see Mariner and Jennifer dating, and see how that affects her, but really the tectonic shift that’s going into [Mariner’s arc in season three] is, right when she opened herself up and everything was going great, it all gets taken away from her. How does that affect somebody who doesn’t like it when people leave her or are taken away?

io9: You have two seasons under your belt now, and a third on the way. What lesson did you take most to heart this season, having seen the reactions to season one, and how will it affect the next?

McMahan: All we’d seen people react to was season one as we wrote season three. Even that, we were kind of into season three when people started to see season one and talk about it, you know. But the thing that got me excited, as we start up [season three] there’s going to be some interesting cameos, some fun callbacks, but we’re also starting to mix in cameos and callbacks to our own episodes a little bit more. We’ve seen a lot of Mariner and Boimler and then Tendi and Rutherford, and we’ve seen them mixed up a bit. Season three we get to see them start their own paths a little bit more while still being friends. I think that’s fun stuff to write.


Star Trek: Lower Decks is now streaming in its entirety on Paramount+.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


9/25 - Doctor Who's Jodie Whittaker Has Filmed Her Goodbye, But Not Met the Next Doctor

Goodbye to the Doctor and Yaz, even if we won’t see there farewell for quite a bit.
Image: BBC

It’s the end of an era for Doctor Who, even if we might not see the ramifications of it for quite a while. Jodie Whittaker, the 13th Doctor, has filmed the end of her time as a Time Lord—but she doesn’t expect to know her replacement for a while.

Earlier this week, the BBC officially confirmed that both Whittaker and Mandip Gil, who plays companion Yaz on the series, had wrapped filming on the show. While this could’ve just been for the upcoming season, Doctor Who: Flux, speaking on The Graham Norton Show the actress confirmed that her half of her regeneration had also been filmed. This also indicates that Whittaker has finished filming the series of specials set to air during 2022, leaving the path forward to a new showrunner and 14th Doctor in the year of Who’s 60th anniversary. “They are never going to tell me who it is [that’s replacing me],” Whittaker said on the talk show (via Radio Times). But while she’s not met the new Doctor, she has indeed said farewell to her own. “We filmed some scenes [for the regeneration], but the new Doctor wasn’t there,” Whittaker continued. “I wasn’t there for Peter [Capaldi], and I only met him months later when I passed him in the street!”

One Doctor Who crew and an actor filming one side of a Doctor’s regeneration, and another with a new actor filming the other months later, is not uncommon in the sci-fi series history, especially when an actor’s exit coincides with a new showrunner and production team moving in. As Whittaker herself noted, her side of the regeneration from the 12th Doctor was shot well after Capaldi had shot his own sequence; a separate group from Steven Moffat’s production team came in to shoot Matt Smith’s first scene as the Doctor during David Tennant’s farewell. Quite infamously, Colin Baker’s dismissal as the Sixth Doctor lead to the actor refusing to return to film his regeneration in “Time and The Rani,” leading to an... unconvincing disguise for incoming Doctor Sylvester McCoy.

So while it’s not unusual, it’s nevertheless the beginning of an end for Doctor Who’s current era. Doctor Who season 13, titled Doctor Who: Flux, will begin on October 30 on BBC One and BBC America—with the six-part series confirmed this week by the BBC to have been penned almost entirely by outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall, with episode four co-written by “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” scribe Maxine Alderton. Returning director Jamie Magnus Stone and Azhur Saleem directed the series.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


10/25 - Updates From The Batman, Marvel's Eternals, and More

Gotham’s calling.
Image: Warner Bros.

Zendaya discusses her time on Dune. New Clifford footage reveals the villains on a quest for Big Red Dog Blood. Plus, Michael Sheen teases his return to Good Omens, and Stargirl goes black and white for a new episode. To me, my spoilers!

Dune

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Zendaya revealed she only spent seven days on the set of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.

I didn’t want to leave ... Denis had such a warmth, and there was a familial quality to the way it felt when I got there. I felt very welcomed by the crew and cast, everybody was so lovely to me.


The Batman

A motion poster featuring Robert Pattinson’s voice promises a new Batman trailer at DC Fandome tomorrow, October 16. Stay tuned to io9 as we’ll be covering the event live.


Eternals

Meanwhile, the latest Eternals TV spot includes new footage of Thena and Gilgamesh fighting Deviants.


Clifford the Big Red Dog

A new Clifford trailer introduces the evil genetics company out for his big, red blood.


Apex

The trailer for Apex sees Neal McDonough hunting Bruce Willis in a futuristic Most Dangerous Game-type scenario


Broken Darkness

A meteor shower brings forth ravenous ghouls in the trailer for Broken Darkness, coming to VOD this October 29.




Good Omens

Michael Sheen is back on the set of Good Omens.


Stargirl

KSiteTV has photos from next week’s partially black-and-white episode of Stargirl. More at the link.

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

Chucky

Bloody-Disgusting also has new photos from the second episode of Chucky. Again, click through to see the rest.

Photo: Syfy
Photo: Syfy

Doom Patrol

Finally, the Sisterhood of Dada is hatching human-faced avian chimeras in the trailer for “Bird Patrol”—next week’s cocoon-puking episode of Doom Patrol.


Banner art by Jim Cook


11/25 - Shudder's Horror Noire Combines 6 Tales of Terror in a Single Movie

Lucifer’s Lesley-Ann Brandt plays Abbie in Horror Noire.
Photo: Steve Swisher/Shudder

The inspiration behind Horror Noire—Shudder’s just-in-time-for-Halloween new anthology horror film—has almost the same title: the excellent documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.

The 2019 doc gathers actors, directors, scholars, journalists, and other movie enthusiasts to discuss exactly what the title suggests, the history of horror films from the POV of a group of people who haven’t always been represented very well in the genre, both in front of and behind the camera, over the years—though that is definitely starting to change. Horror Noire the doc is helping propel that positive evolution with Horror Noire the narrative film, which aims to showcase “stories of Black horror from Black directors and screenwriters,” according to a Shudder press release. The first trailer has arrived and it looks like the six tales Horror Noire explores—the titles are “Daddy,” “Bride Before You,” “Brand of Evil,” “The Lake,” “Sundown” and “Fugue State”—span the gamut from historical to modern-day settings, and will aim to frighten with both old-fashioned shriek-fests and psychological torment. Check it out!

Yep, good call on not following behind a fiddle-toting Peter Stormare.

Here’s what Shudder—which also has new episodes of Creepshow, an anthology series based on an anthology film, as part of its October programming—has to tell us about the cast and creators: “Horror Noire features six stories presented together as a two-hour film starring Lesley-Ann Brandt (Lucifer, Spartacus), Luke James (The Chi, Thoughts of a Colored Man), Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse, A Black Lady Sketch Show), Brandon Mychal Smith (Four Weddings and a Funeral, You’re the Worst), Sean Patrick Thomas (Macbeth, The Curse of La Llorona), Peter Stormare (American Gods, Fargo), Malcolm Barrett (Genius: Aretha Franklin, Timeless), Tony Todd (Candyman, Night of the Living Dead), and Rachel True (The Craft, Half & Half), among others.”

“The new and adapted stories are written by husband-and-wife writing duo Tananarive Due (My Soul to Keep, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror) and Steven Barnes (Lion’s Blood), Ezra Claytan Daniels (BTTM FDRS), Victor LaValle (The Ballad of Black Tom, The Changeling,) Shernold Edwards (All Rise, Anne with an E); and Al Letson (Reveals) ... Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman, author of the groundbreaking book Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present, is consulting on the anthology, as well as Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror documentary producers Ashlee Blackwell, Phil Nobile Jr. and Kelly Ryan.”

Horror Noire arrives October 28 on Shudder.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


12/25 - Spider-Man's Tom Holland Calls No Way Home the Trilogy's 'Conclusion'

“Don’t Believe the Hype”
Screenshot: Marvel Studios

Don’t panic. When Marvel Studios’ latest Spider-Man movie, No Way Home, hits theaters on December 17, it sounds like it might be our last trip home. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, star Tom Holland sure made it sound like things for his incarnation of Spidey might be wrapping up... in some form or another.

Calling the third film a “conclusion,” Holland said “We were all treating [No Way Home] as the end of a franchise, let’s say. I think if we were lucky enough to dive into these characters again, you’d be seeing a very different version. It would no longer be the Homecoming trilogy. We would give it some time and try to build something different and tonally change the films. Whether that happens or not, I don’t know. But we were definitely treating [No Way Home] like it was coming to an end, and it felt like it.”

Holland may call the movie an “end,” but he’s clearly hedging his bets regarding his future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. First of all, there’s every chance he could guest-star in other Marvel movies, especially Avengers 5 or whatever the next super-team film will be. Second, with Marvel Studios’ focus on the multiverse, there is technically an infinite number of Tom Holland Spider-Men ready (there are other Spider-Men available, of course) to help save whichever particular day needs saving. But the real key here is how much Tom Holland loves playing Spider-Man. In a recent interview with InStyle, Zendaya said of her Spider-Man co-star:

“In an actor way, I appreciate that he really loves being Spider-Man. It’s a lot of pressure—you take on the role of a superhero wherever you go. To the little kid who walks by, you are Spider-Man. I think he handled that so well. And seeing him at work, even though he’s not a Virgo [laughs], he is a perfectionist.

“Our director allowed me to come in every day [of the shoot], and it was cool to see how he cares so much about his work and making it right. I watched him do a fight scene all day, which is exhausting. He’d do a move, come back to the monitors, watch it, and say, ‘I can do that better.’ I’d be like, ‘Dude, you got it.’ But he wants us to be perfect, and I really appreciate that.”

Now, you can love playing a character but want to be through with it, but Holland is so young—OK, he’s 25, but he’s still believably playing a high school student—he has a lot of Spidey movies left in him if he wants them. Plus, Holland specified, “If we were lucky enough to dive into these characters again, you’d be seeing a very different version.” Comics fans know Peter Parker has has a very, very long career as Spider-Man after he graduated high school. In fact, the vast majority of his adventures have taken place afterward, which included his stint in the Secret Wars, his marriage to Mary Jane, the Clone Saga, Spider-Island, and more. The Home “trilogy” might well be referring to Peter in his high school days, and future movies could show him at college, working for The Daily Bugle, or what-have-you. Or there could be movies that are placed more squarely in Sony’s adjunct Spider Cinematic Universe—or whatever weird hybrid might be the result of the events of No Way Home.

Just... just don’t panic. In all likelihood, more Tom Holland Spider-movies are in our future. And if he does quit, there’s always Miles. Or Ben Reilly. Or...


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


13/25 - Miscommunication Is the Only Thing to Fear in Pokémon Unite

Screenshot: TiMi Studio Group

In a world that’s full of addictive and wildly popular MOBA games, one of the big things that makes TiMi Studio Group’s Pokémon Unite so appealing is how simple it seems... at first.

Each Pokémon Unite match synthesizes the essential aspects of Pokémon battling into something that, from afar, looks a lot like an unhinged game of basketball. Two teams of Pokémon face off as they try to knock each other out while also tossing glowing spheres into hoops on either side of an arena. When you first start playing, battles often feel chaotic to the point that there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to winning beyond button mashing and praying for critical hits. But as you continue Pokémon Unite and become more comfortable with its ever-growing roster of monsters from different Pokémon generations, it becomes much easier to see how the real key to winning matches is understanding your own teammates and how they see the game.

Unlike most Pokémon games that have been built around single-player narratives perfect for offline solo play, Unite is designed to pull you into its thriving online competitive space, where groups of three to five people are teamed up either at random or by seeking one another out with special codes. There are all sorts of little tweaks you can make to your individual monster in preparation for battle to make them stronger, like equipping them with stat-boosting items that strengthen their attacks. But as the game’s title suggests, it’s seldom that any one player can fully carry a match to victory on their own. No matter how much preparation you do by yourself, what tends to end up determining who wins and loses rounds is the degree to which teams communicate and coordinate to support one another while crushing their opponents.

Screenshot: TiMi Studio Group

Whether you’re using Unite’s randomized matchmaking system or working together with a group of friends, the game requires people to choose from a selection of playable monsters. In every match, each team can only have one instance of a particular Pokémon. Each creature has its relative strengths and weaknesses that factor into what sort of role it’s meant to play on a team, like attacker, defender, or all-rounders who can do a little bit of everything. The more you play Pokémon Unite, the more you realize that the game’s categorizations for different monsters are really suggestions more than hard rules, and every creature is capable of scoring points at its own pace.

Cinderaces—soccer-themed rabbit footballers from the Galar region—may have offensive power, but their speed and mobility can be used to lay defensive fire down in the heat of a battle. Tank-y Blastoises are designed to shield their teammates from attacks, but the Kantoian water type’s ability to summon massive waves to surf is surprisingly effective at overwhelming unsuspecting foes until they’ve drowned and been sent back to their base. You learn these things as you grind your way up through Pokémon Unite’s many ranks on the way to Master, all the while experiencing firsthand what sort of tricks other teams have developed in their quests to become the best.

By the time you learn empty, grassy chunks of the arena are almost always traps where the other team is hiding, you also begin to understand both the importance and limitations of the game’s severely basic communication system. In the moments before matches begin, you have just a few seconds to pick a character and weapons, as well as let your teammates know which section of the arena you intend to focus on and how you plan to play. Nintendo’s notorious for making it excessively difficult for people to speak to one another directly through its various online games, and Pokémon Unite’s no exception. For the most part, “speaking” is limited to selecting canned phrases from drop-down lists, but it’s important to understand how crucial using those phrases and other kinds of communication is when you start to get serious about gameplay.

Screenshot: TiMi Studio Group

Letting your teammates know which path through the arena you want to take is just the beginning of the conversation that each player should be having as they rush to defend their goals at the beginning of a match. Once the two teams meet and begin fighting, action is the most powerful form of communication that players should be relying on because it’s your moves that often end up telegraphing to your teammates what kind of fighter you are. There are certain patterns of play that become obvious as you familiarize yourself with Pokémon Unite’s competitive space, and it’s beyond satisfying when, in the early minutes of a match, you can see that the teammates you’re running around with are all on the same page. Scoring is important, yes, but so is evolving within matches in order to become immediately stronger, and the most effective way of doing that is by coordinating attacks on the wild monsters wandering through the area. When players are in sync with one another, there’s a swift elegance to the way they can clear the field of wild Pokémon, robbing their opponents of those much-needed experience points and making it difficult for them to fight back.

Every player ends up “fainting” over the course of a round, which forces them to return to their home base and wait before reentering the frey, but there’s a way of strategically making sure that one only ever faints when they’ve still got a teammate on the field left to defend their vulnerable goals. As much as Pokémon Unite’s a fighting game, the necessity of considering strategy is undeniable, particularly as matches grow more intense, and the difference between life and death is but a few hit points. Racing back to your goal where it’s safe to heal up can be supremely stressful and worrying, but it’s made all the more manageable when there’s a teammate by your side using their entire body as a shield because they had the wherewithal to keep their health bar high while supporting your escape.

It’s equal parts fascinating and terrifying to witness an opposing team executing a coordinated strike because of how it illustrates the power Pokémon Unite players have when they actually pool their energies to win. On the one hand, matches that suddenly turn thanks to strategies you aren’t privy to are useful learning experiences. On the other, those situations almost always make it much easier to see how capable your own team is at organically rising to meet challenges. There are few things quite as frustrating in Unite as rushing into the thick of a battle where most everyone on your team is desperately trying to emerge victorious save for one (or, Arceus forbid, two) players either lollygagging or for some reason hanging out on the other side of the court as if the game isn’t a competition.

Screenshot: TiMi Studio Group

Malicious throwing of matches is not unique to Pokémon Unite, and the game has a built-in system designed to penalize people who show up to the function trying to ruin things or take advantage of others. In the heat of the moment, though, there’s little you can really do to let your teammates know that you need them other than to call for help, knowing full well that they can see on their maps what’s going on. As is the case with all MOBA games, there are Pokémon Unite matches that you’ll lose for reasons beyond your control—like everyone on your team voting to forfeit simply because things got a little rough for a few seconds, and winning seems impossible. All really it takes to keep faith in the game, though, is one round of turning things around in the last few minutes thanks to everyone on your team resolving not to toss in the towel, and, with a little luck and gumption, to actually strategize their way to victory.

Pokémon Unite is now available for download.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here. 


14/25 - Jamie Lee Curtis Kills as Her Mom's Psycho Character at the Halloween Kills Premiere

Jamie Lee Curtis at the costume party premiere of Halloween Kills at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on October 12, 2021.
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

I think it’s time to retire the term “scream queens,” the epithet for women who star in horror flicks where they’re constantly on the run from monsters, murderers, more. That’s because there is only one true Scream Queen, and her name is Jamie Lee Curtis, star of several Halloween films, Prom Night, The Fog, Terror Train, and more. Curtis proved her royalty yet again at the Halloween Kills premiere party by arriving dressed as her mother, Janet Leigh—specifically, as her doomed character in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

The premiere, held on October 12, was also a costume party, and a few of Curtis’ fellow stars made the effort. Her Halloween Kills co-star Judy Greer came as Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, and I think Kyle Richards was a Sexy Drum Majorette or something. At least Blumhouse head honcho Jason Blum kept on genre by dressing as Laurie Strode, Curtis’ Halloween character, as seen in the 2018 film, although the costume was flattering to neither of them.

Unsurprisingly, Curtis was the star, not only dressed as Leigh’s character Marion Crane, but accessorized with the bloody shower curtain that served as her funeral shroud. It’s by no means the first time Curtis has celebrated her mother, who’s often referred to as the first scream queen because of her work in Psycho. On Fox’s (not particularly good) 2015-16 TV series Scream Queens, Curtis reenacted the infamous shower attack scene herself.

“Oh, god, mother... blood! Blood!”
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

The actor is clearly game for just about anything horror-related, given that she’s been willing to play the role of Laurie Strode for four Halloween sequels, not counting the upcoming Halloween Kills, which premieres in theaters and on the Peacock streaming service tomorrow. In it, Laurie leads the survivors of Michael Myers’ 1978 attacks together to find the missing killer and put him down once and for all. (Don’t worry, he’ll be safe—a third movie, Halloween Ends, is coming next year.)

Hmm. Maybe the term “scream queens” can stay. What if we just declare Jamie Lee Curtis the Scream Empress?


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


15/25 - Star Trek: Lower Decks' Finale Packed a Year of Hell Into 22 Minutes

Star Trek disasters wait for no mother-daughter bonding argument.
Image: Paramount+

Star Trek loves itself an explosive storyline or six, season finale or otherwise, modern Trek or classic. Lower Decks is no exception to this, but if its first season finale leveled a kind of threat unforeseen at that point in the show, its second season goes even bigger into a full-on disaster movie epic—but it never loses sight of the things that matter to the show most.

Image: Paramount+

“First First Contact,” as the name implies, kicks things off in suitably Lower Decks fashion, even if the stakes are a little higher than usual already. In light of her extensive work attempting to quell the Federation’s skirmishes with the Pakleds, Captain Freeman has been tasked with directly attending a first contact mission for once, despite the Cerritos’ usual status as a second contact ship. Tasked with assisting the U.S.S. Archimedes—captained by none other than The Next Generation’s former ensign of big dreams, Sonya Gomez (voiced by the returning Lycia Naff, no less!), from “Q Who”—it turns out Carol isn’t just stepping into the big leagues for this mission. As Mariner manages to overhear while smuggling some contraband off-Starbase, it could be Captain Freeman’s last aboard the Cerritos: not only is she being promoted, Starfleet isn’t letting her bring her bridge crew with her.

Image: Paramount+

At first, this seems like it’s going to become the big conflict of the episode. Mariner, hurt that her mother has kept this news a secret from her after all the bonding they’ve done this season, does what Mariner does best: throws a fit, dropping the news to Shaxs, Billups, and Ransom in the process, to get them hurt and disappointed, and frustrate her mother in the process. Time and time again, we’ve seen Mariner lash out when she’s personally aggrieved like this, but it’s clear this time that as much as her mother is hurt by her actions here, deep down it’s Mariner who’s the most distraught about her mother’s upcoming exit from her day-to-day life.

As if this personal crisis wasn’t enough, it’s from here that “First First Contact” really starts pushing our heroes to, and beyond, their limits. Although tensions are high among the senior staff thanks to Freeman’s upcoming departure, everything is sent into a tailspin when the Archimedes’ mission starts going very wrong. When a freak plasma discharge from the Laaperian system’s sun breaks up a planetoid and sends ionized debris slamming into the Archimedes as both it and the Cerritos enter the system, the former ship is turned into a disabled, spinning asteroid uncontrollably hammering its way to the Laap system’s only habited world—and at first no one on the Cerritos is prepared to know what to do. With the planetoid now turned into a sea of asteroid debris that’s still ionized, the ship can’t fly through to aid the Archimedes without the magnetized debris slamming into its own hull. Everything smashes together: Mariner and Freeman’s conflict, the frustrations among the bridge crew at large, even our other ensigns (notably Tendi, who having received a request from Dr. T’Ana for an impromptu conversation in her office, spends most of the episode convinced she’s about to be re-assigned off-ship), and suddenly Lower Decks finds itself in a disaster epic that it’s never done before, ripped right out of past Trek epics like Voyager’s “Year of Hell” or Generation’s infamous Enterprise crash.

After “wej Duj” masterfully expanded the world Lower Decks inhabits last week, “First First Contact” feels like another level up for the show too. Not only is it the most explosive the show has been since last season’s finale and the cinematic pastiche of “Crisis Point”—delivering visuals and scale that are some of the series’ most sumptuous so far—it’s also the first time a threat on the series has escalated in this manner. It starts off with the interpersonal strife by Mariner’s mean-spirited actions, then moves to the Cerritos itself being in danger, to the lives of a whole other crew—and an entire planet!—being put into their hands. And while it’s great to see the show swing big with a movie-worthy disaster epic in the space of a half-hour animated show (like I said, Lower Decks has rarely looked this great, and that’s even beyond the general bump-up in quality this season has seen thanks to Titmouse’s work), what makes “First First Contact” truly, properly work is that it never trades this spectacle for the core that matters most to Lower Decks.

Image: Paramount+

This entire season from the get-go has been about the idea of trust—not just in trusting yourself, as Mariner learned across season one in particular—but the confidence that comes in putting that trust in the people around you, that a struggle shared is a struggle overcome. That runs throughout the very heart of this finale, too. After another explosive argument as the two try to find a way for one or the other to heroically sacrifice themselves to save the Archimedes, Freeman begs Mariner to let other people get close to her, saying that she can’t solve the problems of the day by pretending to have Kirk-ian machismo when the truth is that she just doesn’t have the confidence of that kind of Trek hero while she keeps pushing other people away. That realization is the catalyst that brings the crew all together to save the Archimedes only by leaning on each other: it takes the whole crew to enact Rutherford’s risky plan to give the Cerritos a path through the asteroid field by stripping its own primary hull away, making it extremely vulnerable in the process. Mariner has to work with huffy Andorian Jen—who she’s joked off-and-on about hating all season—to help Ransom manually guide the vulnerable ship through danger. Even in the lighthearted fun of the series finally paying off on its long-running gag about the existence of Cetacean Ops on Starfleet vessels (here literally run by two delightful dolphins in uniform), there’s this theme of teamwork and communal trust being valued over the actions of the individual, when Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford basically scream “Go talk to your Mom, dammit!” at Mariner when she tries to be the one to heroically and dangerously risk her life to swim through the Ops’ waterworks and unlock the final hull plate.

All our characters have learned this season about pushing each other, trusting in each other to get the job done, and, crucially, letting each other know they all have each other’s backs and don’t need to shoulder struggle, professionally or personally, alone, is brought to the fore in some incredibly dazzling fashion, as ensign and bridge crew alike come together to keep the Cerritos in (mostly) one piece, and save the Archimedes before certain doom. They only do so because they stand together instead of, as Mariner tried to at the episode’s opening, pushing people away, and everyone is rewarded for that act of compassion. Mariner’s friendships with her closest allies and her mother are re-emboldened simply by her acknowledging her vulnerability to them (and in turn allowing her to open herself up to Jen after pushing her away all season). Tendi decides, at Rutherford’s behest, to trust in her ability and face Dr. T’Ana head on, only to find that she’s actually being promoted to a science officer track. Rutherford in turn trusts her, letting go of his doubts of re-losing his memories after the end of season one (even if he does uncover a snippet of a much larger mystery in the process), and even Boimler, who arguably gets the least to do this episode, is still the one that gets to step up and be the heroic Starfleet officer he’s always been capable of being.

Image: Paramount+

And yet, despite this extreme thematic catharsis and a job well done by our heroes, what makes “First First Contact” even stronger is that, while it takes time to rest some laurels upon our heroes, it acknowledges in that entering a higher set of stakes, things can’t just magically be solved with a single act of unity. With the Archimedes saved and the Laaperians successfully contacted, aboard the Cerritos we find that Starfleet is not at all happy with Captain Freeman—now, instead of being promoted off the Cerritos, she’s arrested and escorted off it, accused of being the instigator of a terror attack on the Pakled homeworld alongside the Klingon extremists we met last week... leaving us on the show’s first big step into another Trek staple: the “To Be Continued” season finale cliffhanger!

Now that Lower Decks has learned this lesson however, in some ways there’s no going back for the series. Now that our heroes have learned to stand together, they need to put that lesson into practice in a world much bigger, and much more dangerous, than the kinds of threats they’ve already been dealing with. That goes double when one of their own is threatened at the hands of the animus of a Starfleet that doesn’t really quite understand what it has in a crew as hardy and now as united as the Cerritos team.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


16/25 - Jean Grey's Telling on Herself Again in X-Men #4

Jean Grey and Emma Frost, colleagues, greeting one another politely.
Image: Javier Pina, Erick Arciniega, Clayton Cowles/Marvel

Though the X-Men’s more bombastic melodramatics have often pulled focus in Marvel’s recent comics—like the mutants declaring themselves the new rulers of Mars—there have been other, smaller details suggesting important developments that have yet to fully play out on the page. Take, for example, Jean Grey’s return to using her own Marvel Girl code name and costume that she first began wearing back in the late ‘60s.

With all that Charles Xavier and his X-Men have been getting up to as of late—espionage, throwing a gala (where Wanda Maximoff died), terraforming Mars, and so on—no one’s had the bandwidth to consider the immediate oddness and potential implications of Jean shifting back into her Marvel Girl persona. Perhaps because the X-Men are all trying to get a little down time in X-Men #4, from writer Gerry Duggan, artist Javier Pina, colorist Erick Arciniega, and letterer Clayton Cowles, Jean’s newfound fondness for vintage comes up in a story that explores some of the deepest fears that lurk in the mutant heroes’ subconsciousnesses.

Though not quite as a direct connection as what recently brought the Avengers to Krakoa, the events that play out in X-Men #4 are also tied to what’s been happening with the Avengers lately. At the end of the first issue of Death of Doctor Strange, the present day Sorcerer Supreme was, well, dead on the floor after having been suddenly attacked in a manner very similar to the Scarlet Witch.

While another version of Stephen Strange from the past stepped into the picture within moments of the other’s demise, the brief time in which the Earth no longer had a proper Sorcerer Supreme was enough for many of the magical barriers between Earth and other dimensions to come crumbling down. As a result of those barriers breaking, it became much easier for beings like Nightmare of the Fear Lords to cross over into the Earthly plane, and after manifesting himself in New York City on Halloween eve, Nightmare pays the sleeping X-Men a little nighttime visit.

Image: Javier Pina, Erick Arciniega, Clayton Cowles/Marvel

As a powerful demon who draws power from people’s fears, and has a particular knack for manipulating the dreams of sleeping individuals, Nightmare delights in having the freedom to prance about town without the fear of Doctor Strange rushing out to put him back in his place. Though the X-Men’s Treehouse is full of people whose psyches are ripe for terrorizing, Nightmare’s especially drawn to Scott Summers and Jean Grey’s bed, and it’s unclear how much of what he sees there is a result of his influence as opposed to simply being what’s in the mutants’ minds.

While browsing through Cyclops’ night terrors, which Nightmare finds quite stale generally speaking, he witnesses various scenarios in which the frequent X-Men leader’s apologizing to those who love and rely on him. Despite the cordial working relationship he now maintains with Emma Frost, and the... somewhat stable romantic relationship he’s established with Jean, Scott still carries anxiety and regret over his previous entanglements with both women. On some level, Scott’s also still grappling with the fear that he might somehow disappoint Xavier and Magneto, even though he’s found himself decidedly at odds with both men in the waking world as of late.

Everything about Cyclops’ dreams—especially the vision of himself in a coffin with a “Cyclops Was Wrong” sign hanging around his neck—comes across as very on-brand for Scott when you consider what sort of person he’s always been. It’s Jeans dreams, though, that really catch Nightmare’s attention, potentially because of how her psychic mindscape is naturally more robust and well-produced than Scott’s. It stands to reason that even in the deadest of sleeps, Jean would never be as explicit as Scott about what’s concerning her because of the years she’s spent building up her psychic defenses against attack. In Jean’s dreams, Nightmare first sees her coming to a mutant school in her original X-Men costume that matched Xavier’s other early students. As Jean moves through the school and encounters Emma, her costume suddenly transforms through the magic of dream logic into the classic Marvel Girl getup she’s been wearing since her resurrection in House of X.

Image: Javier Pina, Erick Arciniega, Clayton Cowles/Marvel

Even though the exchange between Emma and Jean takes place in her mind, and this Emma’s more of Jean’s idea of a snob rather than the real thing, her assertion that the Marvel Girl costume isn’t for Jean feels especially significant given the costume’s history, and what’s been going on with the Phoenix in Marvel’s comics lately.

Jean first started wearing her iconic, but rather impractical dress/mask/gloves ensemble back in X-Men #39, after she’d recently returned to the X-Men’s school in upstate New York from a brief stint at Metro College in New Jersey. Jean’s new costume was introduced at a time when the original X-Men had all technically graduated from Xavier’s school, and were transitioning into a new, more mature phase in their lives when their identities becoming even more solidified. The green dress and Jean’s Marvel Girl codename continued to be her signatures right up until X-Men #100, the issue in which Jean sacrificed her life in order to save the rest of the X-Men during an emergency crash landing from space. By X-Men #101, the beginning of “The Phoenix Saga,” the green dress was gone, and Jean’s life as Marvel Girl really came to an end in a metanarrative sense, as that arc went on to fundamentally change the character’s trajectory in Marvel’s history.

Image: Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles/Marvel Comics

In one light, Jean’s donning of her old Marvel Girl duds in the X-Men’s current era has sometimes felt like her attempt at taking ownership of an old identity, in order to re-establish who she was as a person before the world ever knew her as an avatar of the Phoenix. But at the same time, Jean opting for an identity she first constructed back when she was fresh out of childhood has been somewhat suspicious, not because of anything specific that Jean herself has done, but because of Charles Xavier’s propensity for, and history of, manipulating his students. There’s been something rather off-putting about Jean, a grown woman who’s been fighting to redefine herself and her own her autonomy, dressing up as her teenage self while so many of the other X-Men have been comfortably living in their adulthood. This would be weird enough even if the literal teen Jean hadn’t recently decided to return to her own past, but it’s made all the more dubious by the fact that the Phoenix has been hanging out with a new host following Marvel’s recent Enter the Phoenix event.

Image: Javier Garrón, David Curiel, Cory Petit/Marvel

When last Jean and the Phoenix were on speaking terms, Jean tearfully told the fiery burning that the two weren’t healthy for one another, and it would be for the best if they parted ways permanently. In bonding with Maya Lopez, the vigilante known as Echo, the Phoenix seemed to be moving on from its breakup with Jean and getting back to its roots by bonding with another fist-fighter somewhat similar to the ancient Iron Fist it who once wielded it. Much as everyone’s grown weary of the Jean and Phoenix’s theatrics, the Phoenix entering Echo’s life has been a rather curious development, given the Phoenix’s history of tending to empower only those who can naturally sustain its vast energies.

In the past, most other Phoenix Force hosts who’ve been able to properly use its powers have been psychics—like Jean, Quentin Quire, and Emma Frost—while non-psychics like the Phoenix Five could only maintain its might for relatively short periods. In the time after Marvel split Jean and the Phoenix, the publisher put some effort into making clear that her own innate, omega level psionic ability is what always made her and the flaming bird such good fits for one another, and even without the Phoenix’s help, Jean’s a force in her own right. X-Men #4 emphasizes this idea as Jean, now quite awake, finds Nightmare rifling around in Laura Kinney’s mind, and easily drags him out into the open to let him know that he picked the wrong people to mess with.

Image: Javier Pina, Erick Arciniega, Clayton Cowles/Marvel

What feels telling about Jean’s fight with Nightmare, as she bandies him about before flinging him off into the distance, is how intent she seems on pontificating to him in her best “mutant and proud” PR voice. There’s an earnest honesty in Jean’s words as she projects the night of the Hellfire Gala into Nightmare’s mind to show him how she opened up her head to the party’s guests about her sincere desire to atone for the Phoenix’s actions. Even though Nightmare might be considered one of the lesser demonic entities Marvel’s magic users have faced, the way Jean easily trips the conceptual fear monger up is an impressive display of the very same powers that first attracted the Phoenix to her.

As Jean settles back down to the Treehouse after disposing of Nightmare, all seems right with the world once again, but the fact the one one else seems to have been stirred by the psychic commotion, and the way that Jean psionically encourages everyone into deeper sleep cycles is interesting to consider. The Emma we see may have only been a projection of Jean’s mind expressing an anxiety about her fashion choices, but there’s also the possibility that the subtext of Jean’s dream should be taken more seriously. Jean might no longer be the official or technical Phoenix running around Marvel’s comics, but some part of her doesn’t feel quite right about the return of Marvel Girl either, and the question now is whether that part of her is something that Jean’s going to be able to keep shutting up inside.

X-Men #4 is in stores now.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here. 


17/25 - Black Panther's Letitia Wright Denies Spreading Anti-Vaccine Claims on Set

Wright as she appeared as Princess Shuri in the first Black Panther.
Image: Marvel Studios

Earlier this month, as part of a wider report on Hollywood’s reckoning with vaccine mandates and safe filming practices in the covid-19 pandemic, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that a source told them Marvel’s Black Panther star Letitia Wright continued to spread anti-vaccine disinformation on the set of its sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Over a week later, Wright stepped back onto social media to deny the claims.

The October 6 piece alleged that Wright—who had previously deleted her Twitter account in the wake of sharing a deeply concerning video from a self-proclaimed prophet in December 2020—had continued to share anti-vaccination beliefs on Marvel Studios’ Atlanta, Georgia set of Wakanda Forever. Wright’s character, Princess Shuri, is set to have a large role in the film in light of Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing last year, and the report went on to add that Wright also parted ways with her U.S.-based public relations team as part of her response to the backlash about sharing covid-19 misinformation.

“My intention was not to hurt anyone,” Wright previously tweeted after deleting her link to the video. “My ONLY intention of posting the video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies.” But after her role in THR’s report went somewhat viral earlier this month, the actor has now decided to respond. Wright denies the claims that she’s continued to share these views on Wakanda Forever’s set. Taking to her still-active Instagram account—although before yesterday’s post, its last update was in November 2020, weeks before she shared the aforementioned video elsewhere—the actor said that the claims by the trade were “completely untrue.”

“It saddens me to have to address the reports published by The Hollywood Reporter on October 6th 2021. The report spoke about my conduct on the set of black Panther 2. I honestly assert that this was completely untrue,” Wright’s caption reads in part, accompanying an image displaying a fragment from the Contemporary English Version Bible’s reading of Isaiah 54:17, “Weapons made to attack you won’t be successful; Words spoken against you won’t hurt at all.”

“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me, knows that I work incredibly hard at my craft & my main focus is always to do work that’s impactful and inspiring,” Wright continued. “That has been & will continue to be my only focus.” Marvel Studios itself has remained silent on both the initial response to Wright’s tweet as well as recent reporting about her Black Panther: Wakanda Forever set conduct (although fellow Marvel co-stars like Don Cheadle did call the actor out at the time, in similarly since-deleted tweets).

io9 has reached out to Disney for comment on the allegations and will update this post if we hear back.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


18/25 - Watching Halloween Kills Is Like Digging Your Fingers Into a Gaping Wound

Michael demonstrates his “kill ‘em all” approach to life.
Image: Universal Pictures

Halloween Kills—directed by David Gordon Green, and co-written by Green, Scott Teems, and Danny McBride—picks up immediately where 2018's Halloween left off, dropping us right in the middle of a massacre in progress.

As we begin, the citizens of Haddonfield, Illinois—“a simple town where nothing exciting ever happens,” as one character calls it—are just starting to realize there’s a brutal killer in their midst. Puzzlingly, very few of them remember or even know about that killer’s similarly bloody visit on Halloween night 1978, following his first Halloween murder there in 1963. And though only mere moments have passed in the movie’s world, Halloween Kills wants us to see how the psyche of the town has shifted considerably since that first film. The film works hard to advance certain themes—the lingering agony of PTSD, the sparks that make terrified groups of people transform into a frenzied mob, the choices families make to protect their loved ones. Sometimes it works a little too hard. But it also features some standout performances while delivering maybe the goriest Halloween movie to date, which is saying something.

So, yeah, we’re right back where we were—Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, powerful as ever), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) are speeding away from Laurie’s burning house with Michael Myers (played, depending on the scene by stunt performer, James Jude Courtney, and original Michael mask-wearer Nick Castle) still seething evil inside. Haddonfield firefighters—as blind to their town’s history as everyone there traditionally has been; remember, Laurie was considered a wack job for spending her life preparing for Michael’s return—rush to put out the flames, and unknowingly end up freeing the monster once again. While Laurie gets some much-needed medical care at Haddonfield’s hospital, Michael gets right back down to business, slaying his way across town while panic slowly begins to set in on streets where straggling trick-or-treaters are still making the rounds.

Cameron (Dylan Arnold) gets the squeeze.
Image: Universal Pictures

But despite this ready-made forward momentum, Halloween Kills actually spends a lot of its time poking into the past. We get a detailed flashback to 1978 that explores painful memories of that night long kept hidden by Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton; Thomas Mann plays young Frank). We attend the annual reunion of Michael survivors—the now-adult kids Laurie was babysitting that fateful night (Kyle Richards, who reprises her role as Lindsey Wallace, and franchise newcomer Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle); Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), the nurse who was with Dr. Loomis (the late, great Donald Pleasence, who gets what looks like a digitally recreated cameo) when Michael escaped in 1978; and Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet), a onetime schoolyard bully who had an attitude adjustment scared into him after encountering Michael and living to tell the tale. Also in Halloween Kills: Charles Cyphers as Haddonfield’s former sheriff Leigh Brackett, the father of one of Michael’s 1978 victims. And to set the mood, series creator John Carpenter contributes (along with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies) a tweaked and updated version of Carpenter’s classic score. If all this feels like fan service—well, it is, and we haven’t even mentioned the other Easter Eggs that wink at fans of the sequels that this new Halloween continuity has otherwise brushed aside. (You’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em.)

In the original Halloween, much of Laurie’s struggle springs from the fact that nobody believes her when she starts spotting Michael around town. Her friends don’t take her seriously (bad move, since they all end up dying); the next-door neighbors ignore her when she pounds on their door screaming for help. Only Dr. Loomis understands—nobody believes him at first, either—and he doesn’t meet Laurie until the movie’s final scene. So Halloween Kills finally, finally showing Haddonfield at large recognizing what kind of threat they’re dealing with is a relief, even if you still might still wonder multiple times how the town could forget such a vicious mass killing, especially one with survivors still in residence.

Trouble is, once Haddonfield finally wakes up, it quickly becomes infected by the kind of fear that makes formerly normal humans act so irrationally. (“People are afraid. That is the true curse of Michael,” Laurie tells us, in just one example of some heavy-handed dialogue that crops up during act three to make sure we’re catching onto Halloween Kills’ big picture; she also informs us that “Every time someone’s afraid, the boogeyman wins.”) Haddonfield unites under the rallying cry of “Evil dies tonight!”, but their explosive emotions turn them into an unruly band of vigilantes, something that’s illustrated in one particularly grim scene tempered a bit by Judy Greer’s performance as Karen, which brings sensitivity to a moment that otherwise feels a bit like you’re getting smashed over the head with a blunt object.

Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) with Karen (Judy Greer), who is indeed still wearing that Christmas sweater.
Image: Universal Pictures

Really, that’s how the whole movie feels by the end. No Halloween movie has ever taken the subtle approach—this is, after all, a series about a guy who exists only to slaughter people in creative ways—but at times, Halloween Kills inches dangerously close to taking itself too seriously. Any attempts at comic relief feel shoehorned in (the queer couple living in Michael’s childhood home refer to each other as “Big John” and “Little John” and seem to enjoy the notoriety of their address, but the characters ultimately prove unimportant to the main story) and you wonder why the script even bothered.

Mostly Halloween Kills wants you to experience the raging hurt lurking deep within every heart in Haddonfield. By the end of the movie, the bandage has been completely ripped off and pain is flowing freely in the streets, but the town (and this is not a spoiler; we all know there’s a third movie called Halloween Ends on the way) is left without a William Shatner-wearing head to mount on a spike. We know Laurie is set for a trilogy-capping duel to the death when she and Michael meet again—and with it, maybe some actual closure. If that’s even possible.

Halloween Kills opens in theaters and on Peacock October 15.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


19/25 - Marvel's Hawkeye Trailer Promises the Best Christmas Ever, If You Like Hawkeye Being Beat Up

Gonna need a few more frozen drink mixes by New Year’s, Clint.
Screenshot: Marvel Studios

What’s more Christmassy than tickets to a Broadway show, family LARP events, or even a new friend to meet? The chance to shoot exploding arrows at truckloads of goons for punching you about, of course.

Marvel has released a short new trailer for its upcoming Hawkeye team-up series, which will pair Jeremy Renner’s seasoned Avenger Clint Barton with Hailee Steinfeld’s newcomer, would-be-Young Avenger Kate Bishop. The show is set over a holiday period in New York City that of course Clint promises will be the Best Christmas Ever after all that, y’know, “sorry I went cosplay murdering Japanese gangsters after you all got apocalypse’d” business in Avengers: Endgame. But naturally, it can only be the Best Christmas Ever if, instead of LARP events and Broadway recreations of the original Avengers movie’s battle for New York, Clint got beat up by a bunch of mystery thugs as he found himself introduced to the young woman who’d really quite like to be at least his student in the ways of the bow, if not straight up his replacement as the Avenging Archer.

There’s not much more here that we didn’t see in the series’ debut trailer last month, other than Clint’s hapless attempts to explain to both his family and Kate just how great this holiday season was, at least until all the chases and fighting started. But it’s a chance to at least see Renner’s Barton loosen up a bit more than he has in his appearances in the Avengers movies so far, especially recently so, given, well, the aforementioned cosplay murdering of Japanese gangsters. It’s not quite full on Aja/Fraction Hawkeye like the show really wants to ape, but it’s a taste.

Hawkeye, a perpetually distressing reminder of the proximity of the festive season, will launch with two episodes on November 24, with the remaining four releasing weekly every Wednesday.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


20/25 - Loki and Sylvie Look Deep Into Each Other’s Souls in Their New Hot Toys Figures

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Hot Toys has revealed its uncanny action figures of the two true stars of Marvel and Disney+’s Loki TV series: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). But if you’ve seen the show, you know she’s a variant of Loki just like the Cosmic Cube-stealing version from Avengers: Endgame, so she’s earned the name of the Norse goddess of mischief at least as much as that alligator. Anyway, want to see some phenomenal recreations of Hiddleston and Di Martino in toy form?

Enchanting

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Are her magic, mind-enchanting alternate hands enough to persuade you to spend several hundred dollars on this 12-inch action figure? If not, don’t worry—there’s plenty more.

Life Jacket

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

This toy’s jacket looks warmer and better made than the one I, a living human being, own.

Blow the Horns

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Hot Toys even got Sylvie’s broken headpiece horn correct, because of course it did. And, as usual, it’s an incredible likeness of actor Sophia Di Martino.

Hoodwinked

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Again—this toy has better clothes than I do.

Time Enough

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Sylvie comes with her sword, a TVA pruning staff with two different ends to represent its active and inactive modes, the aforementioned magic effects, and a TemPad. But I think the time door backdrop for her posing stand and the reset charge accessory are the neatest add-ons, especially since the latter comes with that cool resetting “puddle” effect.

Gettin’ Loki

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

This image doesn’t look at all like Loki is flipping his daggers (which the actor admitted he improvised in Thor: Ragnarok and got on the first try); instead, it looks like he’s carelessly tossed them in the air and is about to receive the business end of a blade in his left arm. Still, excellent figure, and I refuse to comment on his slacks and shoes.

Beginner’s Loki

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

The likeness of Tom Hiddleston seems to be sporting a little extra forehead from his other Hot Toys counterparts, to say nothing of the real thing. Still...

Loki’n Good

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

...damn.

Lokinto My Eyes

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Admittedly, I hate it when toys can look directly into my soul.

Time Flies

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Hell yeah, Loki comes with Miss Minutes and her... machine? Primitive computer? Whatever. Actually. Loki comes with two Miss Minutes figures, the one you see above and one where she’s clearly chastising Loki.

Loki Out

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Compared to Loki—er, Sylvie, Loki’s loaded with accessories. In addition to the Miss Minutes collection, TemPad, reset charge, time door, and slightly bigger magic-casting hands, he also comes with two daggers, a flaming sword, a non-flaming battle-damaged sword, a sword holster on his back, and the Time Variance Authority collar that robs him of his powers.

Don’t Push Your Loki

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

Here’s a great, albeit subtle, example of Hot Toys’ astonishing action figure prowess—when their figures bend their legs, their pants crease in the exact same way and places that real pants do.

I Apologize for None of These Puns, By the Way

Image: Hot Toys/Marvel Studios

However, the one thing Hot Toys’ action figures cannot do is convincingly look like they’re about to kiss, because this picture is very disturbing to me. I’m sure others will take great enjoyment out of it.

The figures aren’t scheduled to arrive until the first half of 2023, so you may want to get your hands on a working TemPad. Whenever you manage to pick them up, Loki will run you $275 while Loki—sorry, Sylvie, last time, promise—costs $270. Honestly, a Miss Minutes figure should be worth more than five bucks by herself.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


21/25 - Locke & Key Season 2 Might Be Bloodier Than Its Fictional Slasher Movie

Screenshot: Netflix

Through the myriad twists and turns of Locke & Key’s first season—and all the magical keys that led to said twists and turns—we’ve gotten glimpses of Scot Cavendish (Petrice Jones) making his a cinematic masterpiece. It’s a horror film (because of course it is) starring Kinsey Locke (Emilia Jones) and as Netflix’s trailer for the movie shows, it looks surprisingly good—but not as surprising as what happens at the end.

Just make sure to keep watching the entire video:

Yeah, the trailer for the film within the TV show turns into a stealth clip for Locke & Key’s second season, and it’s a doozy. It turns out the villainous Dodge, who the Locke kids thought they’d defeated at the end of season one but is currently masquerading as Gabe (Griffin Gluck) and Eden (Hallea Jones) are among those watching the trailer. But being shot with a demon bullet clearly has some residual effects for poor Eden including 1) hunger and 2) a gleeful willingness to murder sleazy assholes who comment on women’s appearances.

What’s shocking about this scene—even more shocking than learning the Savinis managed to get ahold of a flamethrower for The Splattering—is how gruesomely violent this scene is. Sure, Locke & Key is a horror-suspense series but this is some straight-up gore, a new dimension (pun not intended) for the show to dabble in. It’s also worth noting that Eden is just sitting behind the snack counter at an extremely crowded theater, covered in blood, without a care in the world. This utter disregard for staying under the radar will presumably be a major problem for the good guys and bad guys alike.

Based on the comics by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez, Locke & Key’s second season premieres on October 22, just a hair over a week away. It must be pretty good, since Netflix has already ordered season three!


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


22/25 - Updates From Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, The Flash, and More

There’s an unlikely team of Guardians this time around.
Image: Marvel Studios

M. Night Shyamalan is ready to tease his next project already. Jason Blum reveals plans for even more Universal Monsters reworks. David Gordon Green teases how the world of Halloween Ends is reflected by our own. Plus, a new look at The Witcher’s return, and what’s next on American Horror Stories. Spoilers get!

Baghead

Deadline reports Saffron Burrows, Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, and Julika Jenkins will star alongside Ruby Barker and Freya Allan in Alberto Corredor’s feature adaptation of his short film, Baghead. The story follows “the enigmatic Baghead, a diminutive wrinkled up person who is able to manifest the dead and bring them back to our world for brief periods of time. People seek out the medium to reconnect with lost loved ones. Once in contact with Baghead however, the title character’s true powers and intentions are revealed and there is a high price to pay for its contact with the deceased. Barker portrays a young woman who must face off with Baghead and put a stop to its maniacal evil at all costs.”


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

James Gunn revealed to CinemaBlend that John Murphy (The Suicide Squad) has replaced Tyler Bates as the composer of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

I had to get off of a zoom right before this zoom because I was talking to all of my heads of department. We were going through the finale of [Volume 3] from shot to shot, to shot, to shot and explaining exactly how each shot was going to be done. Now, this stuff we’re going to shoot in May. So this is about just planning. After I get off of this, I’m going to have to go listen to some music that John Murphy wrote that we’re going to be playing during the movie. ...I guess I’m spoiling the fact that John Murphy is doing the score for Guardians.


Knock at the Cabin

Though details on the plot are not available at this time, M. Night Shyamalan’s next horror film is titled Knock at the Cabin and is scheduled for a February 3, 2023 release.


The Wolfman/Universal Monsters

Producer Jason Blum provided Collider with an update on his planned Wolfman movie starring Ryan Gosling.

We are working on the script, got to get the script right. Working on trying to get a script that [Gosling] feels good about and comfortable about and excited about.

In the same interview, Blum revealed his production company is additionally developing “two or three” other Universal monster remakes.

We have two or three we’re developing. They’re not yet announced, so I can’t talk about them. But the status with Universal monsters is no different than it’s ever been. Universal is in charge of the Universal monsters. But we’ve come up with a few ideas that they’ve like for a few of their other ones. And hopefully, we’ll turn those into movies.


Halloween Ends

David Gordon Green revealed to Bloody-Disgusting that John Carpenter is now giving notes on the latest draft of Halloween Ends.

Halloween Ends is complete, and actually, I’m getting John Carpenter’s notes on the new draft later. So, I’m excited about that. There is resolve. Like any trilogy, you want it to have a beginning, middle, and end. We had a concept of the ending, and two years ago, we wrote the first draft of it. So, we had it all mapped out before we went into production on Kills. We knew where it was going, and we wanted Kills to be a symphony in the middle of the book of the Strode saga.

In a separate interview with Uproxx, Green confirmed Halloween Ends is set a few years after the events of 2018's Halloween and Halloween Kills and so it tackles both the covid-19 pandemic and the “peculiar politics” of our current age.

So if you think about it, I mean, where we’re leaving these characters on Halloween 2018, the world is a different place. So not only do they have their immediate world affected by that trauma, having time to process that trauma – and that’s a specific and immediate traumatic event in the community of Haddonfield. But then they also had a worldwide pandemic and peculiar politics and another million things that turned their world upside down.


Halloween Kills, Chucky

Meanwhile, Michael Myers meets Chucky in new a cross-promotion for Halloween Kills and the Child’s Play TV series on Syfy (see below).


The Spine of Night

Hello, Spine of Night poster.

Photo: Shudder

Zeroes and Ones

Ethan Hawke plays Jericho, “an American soldier stationed in post-apocalyptic Rome” who personally witnesses “the Vatican blown up” in the trailer for Abel Ferrara’s latest, Zeroes and Ones.


Needle in a Timestack

There’s also a new trailer for Needle in a Timestack starring Leslie Odom Jr., Cynthia Erivo, Orlando Bloom, and Freida Pinto. We had an exclusive clip from the film earlier this week if you want to check it out.


Upgrade

Jason Blum revealed to Collider he’s still working on a TV series based on the 2018 film, Upgrade.

Upgrade should have been a wide release. I was pissed about that. We’re working on a TV show. So working on the scripts. This first round, didn’t come out. I didn’t get the response I wanted to get. I don’t want to be in development. I want an order. We’re working on the scripts again, so that we can get an order.


The Flash

Entertainment Weekly has our first look at Tony Curran as Despero.

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

Relatedly, new photos from the set of the upcoming Armageddon crossover have surfaced on social media, revealing Barry Allen somehow becomes a new version of Reverse-Flash while his usual self finally gets his classic gold boots from the comics.


Legends of Tomorrow

Entertainment Weekly also has two new photos from the 100th episode of Legends of Tomorrow, featuring some familiar returning faces.

Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW

Meanwhile, Nate kills J. Edgar Hoover in the trailer for next week’s episode.


The Witcher

A new poster for The Witcher’s second season at Netflix.

Photo: Netflix




The Boys

Elsewhere, The Deep sells recyclable canned water in a new promo for The Boys.


American Horror Story: Double Feature

The trailer for next week’s episode of American Horror Story prophecies the first human-alien hybrids will be born in the year 2021.


Batwoman

Speaking of hybrids, Batwoman teams with Alice to fight a brand-new Killer Croc in the trailer for next week’s episode.


Chucky

Finally, Tiffany returns, Andy debuts, and Chucky dons a homemade Hello Kitty mask in the trailer for his next episode, “Give Me Something Good To Eat.”


Banner art by Jim Cook


23/25 - In The Black Phone Trailer, Ethan Hawke Is a Part-Time Magician and a Full-Time Fiend

Blumhouse and Universal co-produced this one, so there’s some more horror bona fides for you.
Screenshot: YouTube

We just got a trailer for the new Scream movie, and here’s another horror trailer involving a ringing telephone that’s perfectly timed for spooky season (even if the movie itself isn’t out until next year): The Black Phone. It’s the latest from Scott Derrickson, whose biggest credit is 2016's Doctor Strange but whose shriek-inducing capabilities have also been amply demonstrated elsewhere in his filmography, including The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us From Evil, and Sinister. That last title’s especially noteworthy because The Black Phone also stars Sinister’s Ethan Hawke—though he looks to be playing a much different sort of character here. Check it out!

Here’s the official description of The Black Phone, in case that trailer didn’t freak you out enough already: “Finney Shaw, a shy but clever 13-year-old boy, is abducted by a sadistic killer and trapped in a soundproof basement where screaming is of little use. When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. And they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney.”

We’ve seen plenty of films about kidnappers preying on kids, but usually the story gets told from the point of view of the terrified parents or determined cops—not the young victim and his apparently psychic classmate, and certainly not with that element of “previous victims coming back from the dead to help kick some serial-killer ass.”

Along with Hawke, that’s Mason Thames making his film debut as Finney Shaw; the rest of the cast includes James Ransone, Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, and Madeline McGraw. Directed by Derrickson, The Black Phone is co-written by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill (Doctor Strange, Sinister) and is based on a short story by Joe Hill (Locke & Key, Creepshow, Horns).

The Black Phone hits theaters on February 4.


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here. 


24/25 - Even the Goddamn Star Wars Hotel Is Getting a Comic

What, you’ve never seen a space hotel before?
Screenshot: Disney/Lucasfilm

From the makers of Star Wars: The Theme Park: The Comic Book, now comes Star Wars: The Theme Park: The Hotel: The Comic Book! 

Yes, the ludicrously expensive Star Wars cosplay experience known as the Galactic Starcruiser, the hotel coming soon to the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (a.k.a the Black Spire outpost on the planet Batuu) area of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is also getting a comic book series from Marvel. Titled Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser: Halcyon Legacy, the comic will detail the rich history of the Halcyon, because of course it has one. And it’s a long history, too.

Halcyon Legacy #1's cover art by E.M. Gist.
Image: Marvel/Lucasfilm

That’s Burryaga the Wookiee Jedi on the comic’s first cover, and if you’re thinking, “Hey, I thought Burryaga was part of The High Republic series which takes place hundreds of years before the original Star Wars trilogy,” and then followed up that thought by remembering, “Wait, isn’t the Galaxy’s Edge park supposed to be set in-between The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker?” then you are correct on both counts. Apparently, the Halcyon is a very old starcruiser, which strikes me as odd given how frequently and consistently starships were updated during the events of the Skywalker saga. Sure, the canon says there was a Jedi training ship called the Crucible that was in operation for hundreds of years, but it was just used for ferrying Younglings around. The Halcyon, on the other hand, has seen some action according to the comic’s official synopsis:

“THE VOYAGES OF THE GREATEST OF ALL-STAR CRUISERS!

Basically, I’m thinking the Halcyon is secretly a near-derelict deathtrap one errant laser away from exploding in the vacuum of space at any moment. Which makes the price tag even more absurd.

Written by Ethan Sacks and with art from Will Sliney, who also did the Galaxy’s Edge comic together, the five-issue Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser: Halcyon Legacy miniseries will arrive next year, as will the hotel itself.

[Via StarWars.com]


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


25/25 - io9 Halloween Costume Show Week 2: Into the Spooky-Verse

You don’t want to let down a whole multiverse of Spiders and not show us your costume, right?
Photo: Zarabethe/Kinja

Last week we kicked off our returning, mostly annual Halloween Costume Show, inviting all you very well-prepared early birds to give us a glimpse at what costumes you’re planning for Spook Season 2K21. There’s still plenty of time to share before the big day though!

With just under three weeks to go until Halloween, here’s our first progress point along the way for you to show us what you’re working on for your costume so far—or if you have one sorted already! Like, say, maybe you just attended a nice first-time-in-a-while comic convention and decided to double up for your Halloween costume this year too? But even if you’re still working on your own costume, or haven’t even started thinking about it yet, you’ve still got time to share your plans with us. Every Wednesday in the run up to Halloween we’ll be running weekly check-in posts highlighting submissions so far to keep you inspired—or give you a place to share your costume if you’re not quite done yet. On the Friday before this year’s big day, October 29, we’ll round up every shared costume to feature here on io9 and on our social feeds, in celebration of your collective awesomeness.

If you need some inspiration to get started, be sure to check out previous years’ Costume Shows, but otherwise, get sharing in the comments section! And don’t forget, as always: please post pictures of yourself (and only yourself), and tell us who you are, what you’re dressed as, and a little bit about how you put your costume together. We’ll be back next week to share some pictures along the way!


Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.


News

Slashdot

Items count = 15

1/15 - Epic Says It's 'Open' To Blockchain Games After Steam Bans Them

Epic tells The Verge that it's "open to games that support cryptocurrency or blockchain-based assets" on its game store, unlike its competitor Valve which has banned games that feature blockchain technology or NFTs from Steam. From the report: When we asked about allowing games that featured NFTs, Epic told us there'd be some limitations, but that it's willing to work with "early developers" in the "new field." Epic says that the games would have to comply with financial laws, make it clear how the blockchain is used, and have appropriate age ratings. It also says that developers won't be able to use Epic's payment service to accept crypto; they would have to use their own payment systems instead. Epic's CEO Tim Sweeney has said that the company isn't interested in touching NFTs, but that statement now appears to only apply to its own games. Epic tells The Verge that it will clarify the rules as it works with developers to understand how they plan to use blockchain tech in their games.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


2/15 - Astronomers Spot First Known Exoplanet To Survive Its Dying Star

"In our new paper, published in Nature, we report the discovery of the first known exoplanet to survive the death of its star without having its orbit altered by other planets moving around -- circling a distance comparable to those between the Sun and the Solar System planets," writes one of the study's authors, Dimitri Veras, in an article for The Conversation. From the report: This new exoplanet, which we discovered with the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, is particularly similar to Jupiter in both mass and orbital separation, and provides us with a crucial snapshot into planetary survivors around dying stars. A star's transformation into a white dwarf involves a violent phase in which it becomes a bloated "red giant," also known as a "giant branch" star, hundreds of times bigger than before. We believe that this exoplanet only just survived: if it was initially closer to its parent star, it would have been engulfed by the star's expansion. When the Sun eventually becomes a red giant, its radius will actually reach outwards to Earth's current orbit. That means the Sun will (probably) engulf Mercury and Venus, and possibly the Earth -- but we are not sure. Jupiter, and its moons, have been expected to survive, although we previously didn't know for sure. But with our discovery of this new exoplanet, we can now be more certain that Jupiter really will make it. Moreover, the margin of error in the position of this exoplanet could mean that it is almost half as close to the white dwarf as Jupiter currently is to the Sun. If so, that is additional evidence for assuming that Jupiter, and Mars, will make it. So could any life survive this transformation? A white dwarf could power life on moons or planets that end up being very close to it (about one-tenth the distance between the Sun and Mercury) for the first few billion years. After that, there wouldn't be enough radiation to sustain anything. [...] The new white dwarf exoplanet was found with what is known as the microlensing detection method. This looks at how light bends due to a strong gravitational field, which happens when a star momentarily aligns with a more distant star, as seen from Earth. The gravity from the foreground star magnifies the light from the star behind it. Any planets orbiting the star in the foreground will bend and warp this magnified light, which is how we can detect them. The white dwarf we investigated is one-quarter of the way towards the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, or about 6,500 light years away from our Solar System, and the more distant star is in the centre of the galaxy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


3/15 - Drones Have Now Been Used To Deliver Lungs For Medical Transplant

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ExtremeTech: The world's first drone delivery of lungs has gone down in history as a success. Unither Bioelectronique, a bioengineering firm focused on organ transportation, recently completed a "proof-of-concept" flight in which a pair of human lungs were shipped via drone to the transplant site in about six minutes. The lungs were flown from the Toronto Western Hospital to Toronto General Hospital, where Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, surgeon-in-chief of Canada's University Health Network, received the cargo at about 1 a.m. He needed the lungs for a transplant he was performing that very day on a male engineer who'd soon become the first transplant patient to receive his "new" lungs by drone. Though the circumstances of the trip were urgent, the trip itself was 18 months in the making. Organs have been shipped by drone before, but lungs are particularly sensitive to environmental shifts during transport, with a majority of donated lungs rendered unusable by insufficient oxygenation. In order to make the trip worthwhile, engineers at Unither Bioelectronique had to design a lightweight carbon fiber shipping container that could withstand vibrations and in-flight changes in elevation and barometric pressure. Preparation involved practice flights and drop tests using simulation lung packages. The drone and its container counterpart were fitted with a parachute and an advanced GPS system, as the drone would fly through the air unmanned. "This innovation in the transportation of organs has the potential to significantly increase the transfer efficiency between donors and recipients, especially in congested urban areas," Unither Bioelectronique says of the trip on their website. "Through this project, we have established an important stepping stone for future organ delivery that ultimately will open the door for large-scale adoption of larger fully autonomous, electrically-powered, environmentally-friendly drones... for transplant across trans-continental distances."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


4/15 - Researchers Show Facebook's Ad Tools Can Target a Single User

A new research paper written by a team of academics and computer scientists from Spain and Austria has demonstrated that it's possible to use Facebook's targeting tools to deliver an ad exclusively to a single individual if you know enough about the interests Facebook's platform assigns them. TechCrunch reports: The paper -- entitled "Unique on Facebook: Formulation and Evidence of (Nano)targeting Individual Users with non-PII Data" -- describes a "data-driven model" that defines a metric showing the probability a Facebook user can be uniquely identified based on interests attached to them by the ad platform. The researchers demonstrate that they were able to use Facebook's Custom Audience tool to target a number of ads in such a way that each ad only reached a single, intended Facebook user. The research raises fresh questions about potentially harmful uses of Facebook's ad targeting tools, and -- more broadly -- questions about the legality of the tech giant's personal data processing empire given that the information it collects on people can be used to uniquely identify individuals, picking them out of the crowd of others on its platform even purely based on their interests. The findings could increase pressure on lawmakers to ban or phase out behavioral advertising -- which has been under attack for years, over concerns it poses a smorgasbord of individual and societal harms. And, at the least, the paper seems likely to drive calls for robust checks and balances on how such invasive tools can be used. The findings also underscore the importance of independent research being able to interrogate algorithmic adtech -- and should increase pressure on platforms not to close down researchers' access.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


5/15 - Former Boeing 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot Indicted For Fraud

Mark Forkner, Boeing's 737 Max chief technical pilot during the aircraft's development, has been charged with misleading aviation regulators about safety issues blamed for two fatal crashes of the 737 Max. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud and 10 years in prison on each count of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce." Slashdot reader McGruber shares an excerpt from the press release: A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Texas returned an indictment charging Mark A. Forkner, former Chief Technical Pilot for The Boeing Company (Boeing), with deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG's evaluation of Boeing's 737 MAX airplane, and scheming to defraud Boeing's U.S.based airline customers to obtain tens of millions of dollars for Boeing. As alleged in the indictment, Forkner provided the agency with materially false, inaccurate, and incomplete information about a new part of the flight controls for the Boeing 737 MAX called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Because of his alleged deception, a key document published by the FAA AEG lacked any reference to MCAS. In turn, airplane manuals and pilot-training materials for U.S.-based airlines lacked any reference to MCAS -- and Boeing's U.S.-based airline customers were deprived of important information when making and finalizing their decisions to pay Boeing tens of millions of dollars for 737 MAX airplanes. On or about Oct. 29, 2018, after the FAA AEG learned that Lion Air Flight 610 -- a 737 MAX -- had crashed near Jakarta, Indonesia, shortly after takeoff and that MCAS was operating in the moments before the crash, the FAA AEG discovered the information about the important change to MCAS that Forkner had withheld. Having discovered this information, the FAA AEG began reviewing and evaluating MCAS. On or about March 10, 2019, while the FAA AEG was still reviewing MCAS, the FAA AEG learned that Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 -- a 737 MAX -- had crashed near Ejere, Ethiopia, shortly after takeoff and that MCAS was operating in the moments before the crash. Shortly after that crash, all 737 MAX airplanes were grounded in the United States.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


6/15 - Jack Dorsey Says Square May Build Open-Source Bitcoin Mining System

Square CEO Jack Dorsey says the company is starting a "deep technical investigation" to create an open-source Bitcoin mining system. It comes as the price of Bitcoin passed $62,000 while threatening to pass the all-time high of $65,000. The Independent reports: Mr Dorsey said Bitcoin mining isn't currently accessible to everyone, but it should be as easy as plugging into a power source. "Silicon design is too concentrated into a few companies. This means supply is likely overly constrained. Silicon development is very expensive, requires long term investment, and is best coupled tightly with software and system design," Mr Dorsey said in a tweet. "If we do this, we'd follow our hardware wallet model: build in the open in collaboration with the community," he added. The company's hardware lead building the wallet, Jesse Dorogusker, is also starting the technical investigation required to take on the mining project, Mr Dorsey said. While announcing Square is considering getting into the mining business, Mr Dorsey said the process needs to be more energy-efficient and more distributed. "The core job of a miner is to securely settle transactions without the need for trusted 3rd parties. This is critical well after the last bitcoin is mined. The more decentralized this is, the more resilient the Bitcoin network becomes," he said. "There isn't enough incentive today for individuals to overcome the complexity of running a miner for themselves," he added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


7/15 - Tether Fined $41 Million For Lying About Fiat Currency Backing

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Tether will pay $41 million to settle allegations it lied in claiming its digital tokens were fully backed by fiat currencies, putting a major compliance headache behind the world's biggest issuer of stablecoins even as regulatory scrutiny intensifies. For years, Tether told customers and the broader cryptocurrency market that it had $1 in reserve to back every token, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said in a Friday statement. That claim was wildly misleading, according to the agency. For instance, from June to September 2017, there was never more than $61.5 million backing Tether, even as roughly 442 million coins were circulating at one point. "This case highlights the expectation of honesty and transparency in the rapidly growing and developing digital assets marketplace," said acting CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam. In its enforcement action, the CFTC said Tether failed to disclose that it held unsecured receivables and non-fiat assets as part of its reserves, and falsely told investors it would undergo routine, professional audits to demonstrate that it maintained "100% reserves at all times." In fact, Tether reserves weren't audited, the agency said. Until at least 2018, Tether manually kept tabs on its reserve levels, a process that wasn't updated in real time, the CFTC said. Tether didn't admit or deny the CFTC's allegations. "Tether agreed to resolve this matter in order to move forward and focus on the future," the company said in a statement posted on its website. The CFTC also announced that Bitfinex, a crypto exchange affiliated with Tether, was fined $1.5 million for permitting retail transactions by American residents.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


8/15 - Pine64 Announces Updated PinePhone Pro Linux Powered Cellphone

Pine64 today announced its latest Linux-powered device, the PinePhone Pro, an update to the original PinePhone which sees a more powerful device running mainline Linux (Manjaro in this case) on a mobile device that works as a cellphone and a desktop computer. Tom's Hardware reports: This combination of hardware and software makes the still slightly futuristic idea of confluence between mobile and desktop devices seem a step closer. Carry it around with you, and it's a phone. Plug it into a monitor, and it's a desktop PC. The KDE Plasma Mobile front-end adapts to the circumstances. Inside, it's much like any other phone, with a Rockchip RK3399S six-core SoC operating at 1.5GHz, 4GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM, and 128GB of internal eMMC flash storage. It features a 13MP main camera sensor and a 5MP front-facing camera. There's a Micro-SD slot for expanded storage, and a six-inch 1440 x 720 IPS touchscreen. The PinePhone Pro is not a typical cell phone, rather the concept of convergence, the ability to use your phone as a computer is intriguing. Plug your PinePhone Pro into an external display and use it as a low-power desktop computer is something that has been attempted by a number of companies, including Canonical's attempt with Ubuntu Edge. PinePhone Pro offers something that is missing from the majority of phones, privacy. A series of hardware DIP-switches, hidden under a rear cover, cut off access to the cameras, microphone, Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1 chips, headphone jack, and LTE modem (including GPS) should you ever need to. The layout and Pogo Pins of the new phone are identical to the original PinePhone, so all existing accessories should work. Retailing at $399, the PinePhone Pro's makers are realistic about the challenges of putting desktop Linux on a mobile device, especially in an ecosystem dominated by iOS and Android.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


9/15 - Valve Bans Blockchain Games and NFTs On Steam

Games that use blockchain technology or let users exchange NFTs or cryptocurrencies won't be allowed on Steam, according to a rule added to Valve's "What you shouldn't publish on Steam" list. The Verge reports: The change was pointed out by SpacePirate, a developer working on an NFT-based game, who said that the change was because the company doesn't allow game items that could have real-world value. But Steam could also be avoiding controversy with the move. Steam has a history of making controversial moderation decisions, especially when it comes to games with sexual content. In this case, though, it doesn't seem like people are pressing F to pay respects to NFT games -- a majority of the replies and quote tweets to SpacePirate's tweets are praising Valve for the move (or mocking those that are upset about it). It's perhaps understandable why Steam would want to avoid having NFTs on its platform. Besides the justification cited by SpacePirate that they could have real-world value (which seems a bit weak, given the massive commercial communities around things like CS:GO skins and Team Fortress 2 hats), NFT and crypto-based games don't have the best reputations. There's the infamous Evolved Apes saga where a developer sold NFTs with the promise that they'd be included in a fighting game but then seemingly took the money and ran. There are some potentially interesting game concepts that use NFTs, but it's hard to say how many of them would've been a good fit for Steam even if they were allowed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


10/15 - 7-Eleven Breached Customer Privacy By Collecting Facial Imagery Without Consent

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: In Australia, the country's information commissioner has found that 7-Eleven breached customers' privacy by collecting their sensitive biometric information without adequate notice or consent. From June 2020 to August 2021, 7-Eleven conducted surveys that required customers to fill out information on tablets with built-in cameras. These tablets, which were installed in 700 stores, captured customers' facial images at two points during the survey-taking process -- when the individual first engaged with the tablet, and after they completed the survey. After becoming aware of this activity in July last year, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) commended an investigation into 7-Eleven's survey. During the investigation [PDF], the OAIC found 7-Eleven stored the facial images on tablets for around 20 seconds before uploading them to a secure server hosted in Australia within the Microsoft Azure infrastructure. The facial images were then retained on the server, as an algorithmic representation, for seven days to allow 7-Eleven to identify and correct any issues, and reprocess survey responses, the convenience store giant claimed. The facial images were uploaded to the server as algorithmic representations, or "faceprints," that were then compared with other faceprints to exclude responses that 7-Eleven believed may not be genuine. 7-Eleven also used the personal information to understand the demographic profile of customers who completed the survey, the OAIC said. 7-Eleven claimed it received consent from customers who participated in the survey as it provided a notice on its website stating that 7-Eleven may collect photographic or biometric information from users. The survey resided on 7-Eleven's website. As at March 2021, approximately 1.6 million survey responses had been completed. In Australia, an organization is prohibited from collecting sensitive information about an individual unless consent is provided. [...] 7-Eleven [has been ordered] to cease collecting facial images and faceprints as part of the customer feedback mechanism. 7-Eleven has also been ordered to destroy all the faceprints it collected.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


11/15 - Google Modernizes US Mobile Search Results With Continuous Scrolling

Google has announced that it's changing the way search works on mobile devices, initially in the U.S. From a report: Now, when you reach the bottom of a set of search results on your phone, you won't have to tap to go to the next page. Instead, the next set of results will automatically load so you can continuously scroll down to see more information. The change will roll out on the mobile web and will be supported on the Google mobile app for both iOS and Android in the U.S. for most English-language searches for the time being. Because it's a staggered release, you may initially encounter some results which scroll and others that do not.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


12/15 - Moscow Says It is First To Launch Large-scale Metro Facial ID Payment System

Moscow's sprawling metro network on Friday launched a fare payment system using facial recognition technology at its more than 240 stations, an initiative the authorities said was the first of its kind in the world. From a report: Moscow, a city of 12.7 million, has one of the world's largest video-surveillance systems. It has used facial recognition technology to enforce COVID-19 quarantines, and protesters attending political rallies have also said police have used it to make preventive arrests and detentions. The authorities are now giving commuters the option to use facial recognition to pay their fare with a system called "Face Pay" at turnstiles equipped with cameras. "Moscow is the first city in the world where this system is operating on such a scale," Maxim Liksutov, head of the Russian capital's transport department, said in a statement.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


13/15 - They're Putting Guns on Robot Dogs Now

Quadrupedal robots are one of the most interesting developments in robotics in recent years. They're small, nimble, and able to traverse environments that frustrate wheeled machines. So, of course, it was only a matter of time until someone put a gun on one. From a report: The image in the linked story shows a quadrupedal robot -- a Vision 60 unit built by US firm Ghost Robotics -- that's been equipped with a custom gun by small-arms specialists Sword International. It seems the gun itself (dubbed the SPUR or "special purpose unmanned rifle") is designed to be fitted onto a variety of robotic platforms. It has a 30x optical zoom, thermal camera for targeting in the dark, and an effective range of 1,200 meters. What's not clear is whether or not Sword International or Ghost Robotics are currently selling this combination of gun and robot. But if they're not, it seems they will be soon. As the marketing copy on Sword's website boasts: "The SWORD Defense Systems SPUR is the future of unmanned weapon systems, and that future is now."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


14/15 - Americans Perceive a Rise in Extreme Weather, Pew Finds

Americans are taking notice of extreme weather events, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. From a report: Two-thirds of Americans say extreme weather events in the U.S. have been occurring more frequently than in the past, while only 28% said they've been taking place about as often, and just 4% perceiving a dropoff in frequency. So far in 2021, the U.S. has seen a record 18 billion dollar extreme weather events. When it comes to extreme weather events in their backyards, 46% of U.S. adults say the area where they live has had an extreme weather event over the past year. The area with the greatest number of people reporting an extreme weather event was the South Central Census Division. It includes Louisiana, a state hit hard by Hurricane Ida and heavy rainfall events.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


15/15 - South Korea Targets Apple Over New App Store Regulation

Apple was on a collision course with South Korea on Friday over new requirements that it stop forcing app developers to use its payment systems, with a government official warning of a possible investigation into the iPhone maker's compliance. From a report: The development comes after South Korea amended the Telecommunication Business Act in August to try to curb the tech majors' market dominance and stop the big app store operators such as Apple and Alphabet's Google from charging commissions on in-app purchases. The law went into effect last month but Apple had told the South Korean government that it was already complying and did not need to change its app store policy, a Korea Communications Commission (KCC) official in charge of the matter told Reuters. "This goes against the purpose of the amended law," the official said, requesting anonymity as the KCC was still in talks with Apple on compliance.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


News

The Lunduke Journal of Technology

Items count = 10

1/10 - The Lunduke Journal has moved to Substack

All new articles from The Lunduke Journal are now being published on Lunduke.Substack.com. Want the latest Nerdy Satire, Opinion, or How-To pieces? Head to Lunduke.Substack.com and sign up for a free account. You’ll get every article sent straight to your… Continue Reading


2/10 - Lunduke & Friends – 8/26/2021

Lunduke & Hartley take a bunch of nerdy, happy questions… and wrestle with the fact that the Internet barely works half the time. Can’t go wrong! Watch Part 1 on YouTube or Lunduke.Locals.com. The Internet was being stupid. Or perhaps… Continue Reading


3/10 - Linux turns 30, burned out, decides it’s time for a career change

Linux, the venerable Operating System kernel, turns 30 years old this week. And, on his 30th birthday, Linux has decided he wants to make some life changes. “I’ve spent the last three friggin’ decades powering smart phones and servers across… Continue Reading


4/10 - Facebook launches Virtual Reality “waiting in line at the DMV”

Hot on the heels of Facebook’s launch of “Horizon Workrooms” — the company’s innovative approach to making virtual reality office meetings as boring as possible — Mark Zuckerberg and company are announcing another new Virtual Reality experience: “Horizon DMV”. “We… Continue Reading


5/10 - Lunduke’s Guide to Choosing a Linux Distribution

Selecting the best Linux distribution for you can be a daunting task. With so many Linux-based Operating Systems to choose from… simply narrowing the list of options down can be overwhelming! Ubuntu? Debian? Fedora? Gentoo? Arch? Who knows! And that’s… Continue Reading


6/10 - Elon Musk announces something awesome. Critics complain: Musk has “money”, “personality”.

Elon Musk, the engineer and entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX, has just announced another groundbreaking, earth-shatteringly awesome project. Musk took to Twitter to promote his new, mind-bogglingly radical endeavor: “Electric, self-driving cars. Underground travel. Artificial Intelligence. Space Ships. And now…… Continue Reading


7/10 - New “Rainbow Cow Fart” Linux vulnerability discovered

A new, local privilege escalation vulnerability has been discovered which impacts all Linux systems dating back to, at least, 1997. This new vulnerability, known as “Rainbow Cow Fart”, is sending shockwaves through the InfoSec and SysAdmin communities. “We’ve never grappled… Continue Reading


8/10 - Lunduke & Friends – 8/22/2021

Behold! Lunduke & Friends! In two parts! Part 1 is available on Lunduke.Locals.com & YouTube. Part 2 is only available on Lunduke.Locals.com. Part 1 – YouTube or Lunduke.Locals.com Topics: Thoughts on Proton & Steam’s impact on Linux gaming. If I… Continue Reading


9/10 - The Lunduke Journal Quarterly – Volume 1

Looking for a single e-Book that contains a boat-load of nerdy satire? An e-Book poking fun at Linux, web browsers, Windows, iOS, programming languages, video game consoles, and major computer companies? Of course you are. You’re only human. Well, as… Continue Reading


10/10 - YouTube fact checks video that references YouTube fact checking video about “Lizard People”

YouTube recently fact checked a satirical video, published by The Lunduke Journal, about “Lizard People.” That original satirical video — entitled “Facebook, YouTube ban discussion of Lizard People” — contained the following line: “YouTube has also announced an update to… Continue Reading


News

Luke Smith

Items count = 56

1/56 - 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.


2/56 - 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.


3/56 - Bringing back old-school web pins and buttons

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

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

The only rules are:

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

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

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

LARBS

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

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

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

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


4/56 - 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.


5/56 - YouTube stream now

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


6/56 - 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.


7/56 - Matrix vs. XMPP

The Chad XMPP

What are XMPP and Matrix and what makes them special?

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

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

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

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

Matrix vs. XMPP: Which is better?

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

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

Matrix's advantages over XMPP

Matrix is more normie friendly.

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

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

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

Matrix's default functionality is more "intuitive."

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

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

XMPP's advantages over Matrix

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

XMPP servers are easier to manage than Matrix.

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

XMPP is lightweight. Matrix is big bloatware.

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

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

Matrix is less decentralized.

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

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

Matrix is a metadata disaster.

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

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

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

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

   

...

   

Take a guess...

   

...

   

🇮🇱 Matrix is linked to Israeli intelligence! 🇮🇱

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

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

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

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

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

In conclusion

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

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

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

How the XMPP environment can be improved

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

Other note

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


8/56 - Late livestream on YouTube ASAP

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

I'll begin before the top of the hour.


9/56 - 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.


10/56 - Livestream on YouTube right now

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


11/56 - 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.


12/56 - 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


13/56 - Modern "Freedom" Means Being a Slave to Impulses

What does freedom mean?

See this article in video form here.

Which of the following two people is more free:

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

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

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

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

Classical freedom

Paul

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

The Christian tradition

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

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

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

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

Impulses are not the man

nihilism

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

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

Control of Impulses Leads to Freedom

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

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

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

Slaves to Vices are Slaves in General

manmade

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

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

The Kingly State

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

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

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

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

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


14/56 - 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.


15/56 - The Problems with Utilitarianism


Utilitarianism

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

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

"Maximizing"

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

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

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

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

The Well-being of Conscious Creatures

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

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

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

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

You can't do math with feelings

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

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

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

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

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

To repeat:

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

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

What Utilitarianism really is

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

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

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


16/56 - Monero and Other Privacy Coins

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

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

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

Monero's Competitors

Zcash is Trash

Zcashy owned

Optional privacy is no privacy at all.

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

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

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

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

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

Pirate Chain

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

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

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

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

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

Monero + Dogecoin + Bitcoin = Wownero

such wow

websitememe site

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suterusu and the Suter Token

website

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

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

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

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

zk-SNARKs vs. zk-STARKs

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

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

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

The ideal privacy coin

Would be one that:

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

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

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

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


Monero Wownero
48jewbtxe4jU3MnzJFjTs3gVFWh2nRrAMWdUuUd7Ubo375LL4SjLTnMRKBrXburvEh38QSNLrJy3EateykVCypnm6gcT9bh Wo3kx9FY1sQLndodemcibifzbdi2Q7X9YaoaMAVdKCwXieVJBJTRdpG3WoWzQ1atnBLK1Wti7P72p34K21EaACRv124yiLenE


17/56 - Livestream on YouTube within an hour or so

See the link here:

https://youtu.be/Jq9ZKvsJSJI


18/56 - 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.


19/56 - Monero Maximalism: Or, How Bitcoin Is a 💩coin

The Biggest Problem with Cryptocurrency

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Disaster of the Bitcoin Future

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

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

It will be even worse.

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

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

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

The Solution: Monero

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

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

Firstly, the technologies which make the Monero blockchain private:

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

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

Monero is for normal people

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

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

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

Monero solves all of Bitcoin's other problems.

Bitcoin also has other drawbacks:

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

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

1. Monero has low transaction fees.

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

2. Monero will be mined forever.

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

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

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

3. Monero stays decentralized by avoiding mass-mining.

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

Other Monero Perks

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

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

Optional Transparency with Private View Keys

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

Monero is actively developed and improved.

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

Using and Holding Monero

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

Wallets

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

Getting Monero

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

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

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

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

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

Use now or to HODL?

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

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

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

My Monero donation address:

48jewbtxe4jU3MnzJFjTs3gVFWh2nRrAMWdUuUd7Ubo375LL4SjLTnMRKBrXburvEh38QSNLrJy3EateykVCypnm6gcT9bh


20/56 - 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


21/56 - My blog system now has tagging (all pure POSIX shell of course)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


22/56 - The Fragility of Physics

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

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

Why "fragile?"

The purity of theology

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

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

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

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

Does light really go the speed of light?

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

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

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

Poverty of data

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

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

Physics vs. "soft sciences"

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

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

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

My standard for theoretical frameworks

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

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

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

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

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

The blinders of positivism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


23/56 - Programs and Equipment I Use

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

Software I Use

Priorities

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

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

Basic

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

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

Utilities

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

Production

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

Cryptocurrencies

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

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

Where can I find good software options?

The program of your dreams is probably listed below:

Hardware I Use

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

What I don't use

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


24/56 - Making Free Money off Credit Cards

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

Aren't you glad to be an AMERICAN?

USAUSAUSA

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

Exploiting introductory offers: "Churning"

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

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

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

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

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

Cards to churn

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

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

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

How credit card companies try to mitigate this

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

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

Cautionary note for credit brainlets

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

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

Other advantages of having multiple cards

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

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

Common questions about exploiting introductory offers

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

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

"But what about muh credit score?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do I need a checking account?"

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

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

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

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

Three important notes on Credit Cards

The psychology of spending

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

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

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

Don't use cards with annual fees.

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

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

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

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

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

Minimizing Privacy Exposure

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Daily drivers"

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

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

Again:

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


25/56 - Why I Use the GPL and Not Cuck Licenses

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

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

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

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

Why "Cuck Licenses?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

No whiners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Freedom that Cuck Licenses "preserve"

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

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

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

Janny
Cuck-licensers write proprietary software for free.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addendum

Are copyleft licenses always best even for freedom?

No!

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

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

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

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


26/56 - 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.


27/56 - Academic

Medieval sciences

Table of Contents

Papers and Memories...

Here are some old academic papers that I mostly wrote as term papers and such in graduate school. People occasionally ask out of interest.

By the time I got a year or so into my Ph.D. at Arizona, I had pretty much not intention on continuing in the charade of academia, therefore, they are usually out of the mold of normalcy for the field since most of these papers I had no intention of ever "publishing" in "academic journals."

Master's Thesis on External Possession (April 2015)

Not actually that interesting, at least I don't think.

Syntax doesn't exist (May 2016)

I wrote this back for that old throwaway seminar class that Tom, Massimo and Chomsky put on (this was actually before Chomsky officially relocated to Arizona). Most of the students in the class were just undergraduate communists who didn't know anything about linguistics and just wanted to be around Chomsky and therfore had to survive abject confusion and suffering. The class was really fun and I just talked to cute girls or us graduate students just goofed off. This was actually when I decided to get my first ThinkPad.

...Oh yeah the paper. It actually was the first inklings of "my idea" written in this highly disorganized paper in less than a day. The idea is that alternations in languages that seem strange all occur because they are attempts to try to optimize between phonological and semantic constraints. Syntax is not an autonomous engine with idiosyncratic constraints, but just a shorthand we use to talk about these strange things that happen to make phonological structure acceptable to semantic structure or vice versa. I argue that extraposition, the EPP and some other things all are phonological repairs and we don't have to posit some extra constraints in the language faculty to model them ad hoc.

Scope marking... yep, it's prosodic too. (May 2017)

A very short paper I wrote for one of Mike Hammond's classes. Not even sure it gets the point across, but I really like this idea. Languages like German can have residual wh- words in places through which they have been raised: scope markers. I noticed a formal similarity with noun phase stressing in a cited Kimper article. I argue that German scope marking is actually the same pheonomenon, based on that interesting idea that Richards had about phonology driving wh- movement.

Prosodically-driven word order (September 2017)

I argue that syntactic word order is just an epiphenomenon of prosodic, rather than "syntactic" parameters. Ultimately, all languages simply place subjects, objects and verbs where they will recieve the appropriate stress level, and where this is ties in with independent prosodic rules of each language. I use Optimality Theory to model this as some cruel joke and because this was a qualifying paper and I had to do something conventional. I don't really take it seriously as a scientific tool.

Indo-European Particles and Word Order (November 2017)

The most boring class I ever, ever took in my 20 years of schooling from kindergarten to Ph.D. was Heidi Harley's head-movement seminar. Just thinking about that room lowers my testosterone. Actually, I need to go lift right now...

Thankfully, the only thing we had to do for that seminar was write a paper. (We may've had to present articles a couple days, but I must have suppressed that level of boredom.) Obviously I was not going to write something about head-movement (which is some silly theory-internal idea of Generative Grammar), so I wrote the paper on Indo-European particles and how they affected a change in word order over time from SOV to SVO. This was obviously not the kind of paper expected and I wrote it dismissively, but the argument of it is solid and interesting.

A Critique of "Reason" (December 2017)

Finally, not a stupid linguistics paper. On my issues with the Kahneman and Tversy's "heuristics and biases" program, with various support from Gigerenzer and Taleb. I wrote this for a class of Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini's I took which if I remember right was technically an economics/neuroscience class. Massimo is a big fan of Kahneman and Tversky, but I've always found their work basic and predicated on clumsy hyper-rationalism which ends up not being rational at all. I explain in the paper: Actually read it.

Game Theory determines quanitifer scope interpretation (April 2018)

I argue that Chomskyan syntax is not equipped to properly deal with quantifier scope interpretations. I present a framework that assumes that speakers use and assume their languages' constructions to communicate scope given certain universal constraints assuming the priority of surface scope and economy principles. Nearly all normal and abnormal scope judgments fall out for free from this method, which is analyzed with Game Theory. At the end: flexible syntax (across either a whole language or a specific construction) ends up entailing universal surface scope, while syntactic rigidity causes scope ambiguity. BTW, look at those cute little LaTeX charts...

The Shivasutras and Neural Nets (April 2018)

This is actually probably a ditsy paper, but it was my last paper I wrote in graduate school and for a class I never actually went to. I don't really remember what it was even a class on. I think Mike Hammond was the professor? Maybe Robert Henderson? That's how much I paid attention my last semester, and I wrote this paper as a larp.

I had been reading classical Indian/Vedic grammars and the Paninian stuff. We had been talking about the "interpretability" (or lack-thereof) of Neural Nets so I wrote a little piece on the Shivasutras, which order the phonemes of Sanskrit in a unique order to be able to refer to them in Paninian grammars with the greatest economy. I make the statement that these classes of phonemes are analogous to the intermediate nodes of a neural net, which often appear to have no real-life relevance, but one often appears at an extra level of abstraction. For example, it becomes very easy to model the Indo-European ablaut system via the Shivasutras since different lines show the different grades. Sanskrit grammarians of course had no direct knowledge of Proto-Indo-European but in the interest of formal economy, end up discovering aspects of its grammar.

The Indo-European Tapes

Since I had a background in classical languages and Indo-European studies, a couple of my friends wanted to put together a little reading group to learn about Indo-European stuff. We covered all the basics of Indo-European grammar and reconstruction and basic lore, although we fizzled out after only a couple weeks.

For my personal records, I actually recorded these meetings on my phone (it was actually mostly me lecturing and all of us making jokes). The audio recordings are extremely messy, with every bump on the table audible, but they are listenable if you care about the topic.

I also made some handouts which have also survived. I'm uploading these in ogg because it's a superior format. If you're an Apple/Mac user, suck it up and get a real audio player.

  1. Week 1 Audio: Basics and Phonology (handout)
  2. Week 2 Audio: Ablaut, Morphology and Indo-Hittite (handout)
  3. Week 3 Audio: Divergence and Syntax (handout, examples)
  4. Week 4 Audio: Paleohistory and Migration (handout)
  5. Week 5 Audio: Greek, individual languages (handout on Greek)
  6. We got lazy after this and the group ended! Good while it lasted.

If someone is good at cleaning up audio, I would be very grateful if you could do a number on these; email me and I can provide the lossless originals for that.

Note also that these tapes were recorded back when I cursed, so you can get a snippet of me still saying naughty words.

Video Talks

The embedded videos here are from PeerTube. These are all on YouTube if you prefer (to see all the extra comments or whatever).

Biolinguistic Clarity in Generative Syntax (2015)

Reveal the video.

Shortly after I finished by M.A. at the University of Georgia, I ended up returning to help with a conference they had started recently. Some guy canceled at the last minute the day before, so I volunteered to invent a talk in 24 hours. It was more of a comedy routine, but here it is. I consider the actual ideas behind this talk underdeveloped and totally superseded by the ideas I illustrate above in those paper on syntax and phonology, but this is a good idea of the kinds of things I was thinking around 2015.

Language as Synesthesia (2017)

Reveal the video.

slides

Tom Bever had a cognitive science seminar for graduate students and this was my presentation for it. Most of the other grad students were in cogsci or philosophy, nonetheless, I did a pretty linguistics-heavy talk.

"Linguistics Isn't 60 Years Old!" (2018)

Reveal the video.

slides

My last semester at Arizona, Simin invited me to present a day in one of her grad classes on the history of linguistic thought (she actually invited me to present a lot because she knew I liked teaching or just talking about these issues, while she is totally burned out on it (I actually was her assigned assistant for an undergraduate syntax class, and I ended up teaching about a third of the days just because I wanted to and she liked taking vacation)). Anyway, as we all know, I mostly like old books and old stuff that no one seems to know anymore, so I talk about Paninian/Sanskrit grammar in Classical India.

As we talk about at the end, originally we planned to make this a series (I even thought of making it a goodbye tour), but that never happened. No one will ever know my hot takes on medieval European grammar.

Audio Talks

Other presentations

I have some slides and stuff from other presentations, and I might upload them here when I get the chance.

Don't go to college!

Just in case anyone sees this page and thinks, "Oh wow, look at all the cool things Luke was doing in graduate school! I should go too!" Do not do that. I want to make it clear that if any genuinely intelligent and curious person whose goal is inquiry without reservation, you will find nothing but frustration and suffering in contemporary academia. Particularly Arizona was very cultlike, stifling and uncomfortable. I stayed alive by being blasé and jocular about things, as you may be able to tell in some of those recordings, but I want to make it clear that I regret going into a Ph.D. program and I consider it the third biggest mistake of my life. I will never get those years back, and I sorrowfully regret it.


28/56 - 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.


29/56 - Only Use Old Computers!

Dream ThinkPad
The ideal ThiccPad.

If there is a single point of advice I can offer novice computer users, it is stop using modern computers.

If you look at "technology YouTube," part of my neighborhood, but I more mean the massive multi-million subscriber channels, nearly all of it is devoted to constantly reviewing and comparing every new computer, processor, graphics card and product. There's big money in it because obviously all of these companies put money in it, but also if you're a normal person, you automatically assume you need the "best" technology.

Do you need a modern computer?

Absolutely not. More than 95% of people could be using a computer from 2008 or before without any problems. Needing a recent machine is limited to people who:

  1. Do extreme, professional, processor-intensive video-rendering.
  2. Compile massive programs and operating systems. (I'm not talking about your little suckless programs.)
  3. Play recent triple AAA video-games on high settings.
  4. Use many massive Electron apps and other inexcusably bad software written by soydevs and other people who shouldn't be writing software.

The last two reasons aren't really real reasons at all because they are totally unnecessary and avoidable things.

But to the point, watching YouTube videos and using a word processor does not require last month's new release.

Every video I upload, I transcode for settings optimal for YouTube, meaning I render each video I record. On my computer from a decade ago, that still takes only a couple minutes. A fancy $5000 computer might be able to do it in less than one, but it is honestly not worth the pain associated with modern computers.

How much should a computer cost a normal person?

Either nothing or just around $200, I say. I use a ThinkPad X220 I got for $90 on eBay. Before that, I used another ThinkPad X220 I also got for $90. Like anything else, if you are buying things on Amazon, you're doing it wrong.

The Pain of Modern Computers

Modern computers are more breakable

As computing has become more and more popular, companies have started to realize that a consumer's first reaction on having their $5 wifi card die is immediately buy a whole new computer. This means two things: (1) they don't bother to make computers easy to repair, in fact, they make it more difficult for people to repair their computers (2) there is absolutely no need to make computers durable at all. In fact, it's probably better to let computers break so you'll get yet another sale.

Apple is by far the most anti-social computing company because of this. I'll let the larger tech channels show you the specifics, but every Apple product is brilliantly designed to make it difficult to fix very basic and otherwise fixable problems. They have quite a racket licensing out the ability and tools to companies that want to fix their terrible hardware. Apple even used pentalobe screws just so normal people couldn't open their computers up with a typical screwdriver. Of course nowadays every other computer manufacturer imitates the Apple style where apparent "sleekness" is supposed to be a signal of high quality.

Modern computers are increasingly monitoring devices and come with proprietary junk.

The Management Engine

You might've heard that all Intel i3/i5/i7 processors (that is, after the Intel Core 2 Duo) have an onboard alternate processor that is meant to function as spyware. This is called the Intel Management Engine. It can view your memory and connect to the internet: basically all modern computers have this permanent back door. In older computers, say the ThinkPad X200, you can, with a little hardware action, remove the other processor and replace the proprietary BIOS with Libreboot or Coreboot, but that is not possible on more modern computers (you can install Coreboot on a more modern machine, but not all of the components of the Management Engine are removed).

More recent computers, however are non-removable spyware by design and, yes, the NSA can monitor any machine with a Management Engine. There are actually even rumors that one of the taps that the FBI under the Obama administration put on Trump during his campaign was a Management Engine bug.

Note that AMD (Ryzen) processors have what they call a "Platform Security Processor" that is equivalent to the Intel Management Engine, so you're not escaping the issue by using one of them.

NVIDIA

Again, unless you play modern videos alone all day, you literally have no reason to have a modern computer, especially one with an expensive graphics card. NVIDIA is a great example because they make graphics cards and develop proprietary drivers for them to make it harder and harder to use them on machines that aren't running whatever the most recent spyware variant of Windows 10 is. Linux works perfectly on all computers ancient and modern, but if you plug some NVIDIA thing up to it, you might lose your screen or not be able to boot. A lot of gaymers whine about their NVIDIA products "not working" on Linux without realizing that is by design. NVIDIA and other companies and all CPU designers go out of their way to keep their source code and standards private which makes their products tangibly worse because it is harder for other parties to write drivers for them. Why? Because most of them have partnerships with Microsoft.

The Problem of Windows

How many times have you heard a normie explain to you that their computer is slow because it's "really old" and they bought it "way back in 2015?" It's an absurd statement of course. Computers don't just get magically slow... ...unless they've been running Windows.

In the future, once even Microsoft has switched over to a purely Unix-based backend for their operating system, we're all going to have a good laugh about how Microsoft Windows, literally the worst and least functioning operating system ever devised, was the largest consumer market share for decades.

I might go into how Windows is poorly designed in another page or video, but I want to be clear that there is no such loss of speed on any Linux distribution, which is what you should be using. I am one of the first to complain about the feature bloat of the Linux kernel and Linux software, but compared to Windows, it's no contest: Linux runs fast on old hardware. You'll know from some of my videos, however, that I'm not big into "Linux Evangelism," mostly because it's sort of strident and doesn't really work with a high success rate. Using Linux is just something that normies have been immunized against (mostly because "It's what smart people do"), but I always find myself in a position where someone's Window installation has permanently crashed and they're at the awkward decision of having to buy a license to reinstall the dysfunctional and slow operating system they've grown to hate.

There is quite literally no problem that normal people have with computers that is not immediately alleviated by installing Linux.


30/56 - Learning European Languages (Michel Thomas)

Map
From Gottfriend Hensel's 1791 Synopsis Universae Philologiae

I've said on a couple livestreams that the ideal way for an English speaker to begin learning or excel in learning other major European languages (Spanish, French, Italian and German) is to use Michel Thomas's audiotapes. They can be found for free on Pirate Bay and other sites, but you can also buy them on his official site.

This style of audiotapes is so far above any other, it's hard to even put it in words. They make really exceptional promises: "learn a language in 8 hours" and in some sense I'm inclined to agree.

They certainly give a reflexive foundation that makes learning anything else about a language very easy. There are multiple courses and they're worth listening to multiple times until it's a totally internalized.

Explanation of the Method

The tapes all have Thomas locked in a room with two people who don't know the language, one male, one female. Thomas simply teaches and illicit basic responses from the two students, teaching them as they go. As the listener, your part is to say the proper responses to yourself before the example students. At all points in time, the students are creating novel sentences, combining basic concepts.

Lack of vocabulary

Probably the most important part of the tapes is the lack of vocabulary taught. You don't get 20 irrelevant nouns with each lesson to memorize that you don't even now how to use. What new words you "learn" are mostly shared in common with English. The goal is to make you fluent before you have to memorize words.

Thomas, instead, actually teaches the language and how to be constructive in it: the verbs, the verb inflections, how to combine them, basic pronouns and the like. Only once the students understand them does he move on to the words for real-world objects. Thomas will sometimes explain why he does this in the course, but it amounts to what I've said in other places: you can guess or figure out nouns or talk around them, but if you don't know how to put verbs together, you just don't know the language and you can't even fake it. It is much easier to learn nouns after you actually learn the structure of the language and can actually use them.

Lack of "comprehension"

You're never told to "listen to this passage and think about what it means" in the Thomas method. The Thomas method is entirely productive: you make the sentences and you have to put yourself in the mindset of how the language works.

A lot of other audiotapes, say Pimsleur, have you sit and listen to text and implicitly ask you to "translate" it. This in essense, keeps you thinking in English, or thinking in translating mode. The also keep you chained to canned responses in a single dialog. When people do this, they ignore the actual structure/grammar of the language, listen for big noticable nouns, and then piece together what the sentence means. This is always a bad idea.

Michel Thomas actually just knows what he's doing.

It's honestly rare that you even ever see a "good teacher." By that I mean someone who can easily keep track of what his students know and can devise questions perfect to pry their knowledge. Thomas is just honestly good at this and it goes a long way. In the tapes, if he notices that a student repeatedly messing something up, he knows how to elicit better responses and remind them of what they need. This is 99% of teaching, despite the fact that it's a really rare skill.

Don't bother getting the tapes without Michel Thomas

After Michel Thomas's death (or perhaps a little before) the company running his website above put out tapes for many other languages: Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, etc. under his name. They are done "in his method" theoretically, but they are no good. They do weird things like have two different teachers: one who instructs the students and one who is a native speaker of the language to say the sentences in it. I think the idea behind it was to make sure you hear a "perfect" accent, but it's a total waste and the sponteneity required for actual teaching is lost because you have these two different people trying organize among themselves. I think the teachers lack the introspective skill to keep tabs on the students' learning that I mentioned above, so all-in-all, I think they're awkward and fake.

Donovan Nagel (you may know him from his YouTube channel on BSD) gave Michel Thomas a negative review after using the "Michel Thomas" Arabic tapes. I listened to part of the Chinese tapes and they were not worth it (if you want to learn Chinese I've written about what I recommend).

But the real Michel Thomas tapes: Spanish, French, Italian, German, done by the man himself, are the best for all their respective languages.


31/56 - Wanna Learn LaTeX?

Table of Contents

  1. What is LaTeX?
  2. Installing LaTeX
  3. LaTeX Video Tutorials

I have a full video tutorial series on learning LaTeX, broken into small sensible parts, here.

What is LaTeX?

Basically, it's how big boys write and format documents.Every public brief, scientific article, book, cryptocurrency whitepaper or even outline written by people who know what they're doing is written in LaTeX.

If you want to see examples of documents made with LaTeX, you can see my Master's thesis here or another paper here that shows some diagrams and other features you can have in LaTeX. Of course, LaTeX documents can be infinitely customized.

Writing

"Is it hard?"

No.It's sort of like learing vim.People complain about how hard it is until they take the bare minimum of time to learn it and realize how much more effective they are with it.The return on investment is massive.I wrote the thesis above in LaTeX in around a week of learning from the bare minimum.

"How is LaTeX different?"

LaTeX is a markup language, meaning that you write documents in whatever text editor of your choosingand instead of manually moving margins and placing things yourself, everything is optimally placed when you compile the document into a .pdf.

Markup languages are great because they separate the task of writing from the task of formatting.It's somewhat similar to the difference between HTML (a markup language) and CSS (which does styling) and Javascript (which does scripting).LaTeX does the equivalent of all three, but it allows you to do them all separately so you can easily extend documents.

"Why is LaTeX better than Microsoft Word and friends?"

"But Word has some of those things!"

Niche features that basically no Word-user uses. Also they change with every new update. This is the primary operating structure of LaTeX.

Installing LaTeX

The core LaTeX package (texlive) is fairly small, but I highly recommend you download allthe LaTeX packages out there at the beginning (a big download).This is nice because as you learn more things, you won't have to manually download new packages.You'll be able to experiment with new LaTeX abilities through new packages seamlessly.Here's how you get them:

Once you've downloaded and installed that, you have a fully-featured LaTeX engine on your machine!You can make lots of amazing things that you don't even fullt realize yet.

LaTeX Video Tutorials

Basics

First thing to learn is how to compile documents with pdflatex and the basic principles of the TeX lanugage.In this first video, I talk about how basic text, paragraphs, titles, headings and more work.This in itself is enough to make a professional write-up.

Click to Reveal Video.

Numbering and cross-referencing

As you make more complex documents, you'll want to automatically number andinterrelate section, figure and other numbers together. LaTeX makes this supersimple, and make it even easier to copy your file into a new file where it willautomatically update all cross-referenced numbers.

Click to Reveal Video.

Bibliographies with Biber and BibLaTeX

Bibliography management is a huge plus in LaTeX through biber. I haven'twritten a bibliography in more than half a decade due to the fact that LaTeXonly needs a bibliography file of metadata and autogenerates citations for anyneeded source.

Click to Reveal Video.

Images and Figures

TeX isn't all text either. You can insert and nicely format images in a waythat they are optimally placed without too much human interference.

Click to Reveal Video.

Macros to make things easy

As you do more specific things, you might want to make your own macros and functions.This really makes things easier, and you can do very complex things very elegantly.

Click to Reveal Video.

Slide Presentations with Beamer

LaTeX isn't just for printable documents either.You can change your document into a Beamer presentation, allowing you to present it as a slide show similar to Microsoft PowerPoint's.

Click to Reveal Video.

Making a Professional Résumé

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

Part 1

Click to Reveal Video.

Part 2

Click to Reveal Video.


32/56 - Learn Latin

Smug Roman solider

Latin was the first language I learned and has probably been the most useful. Here I'll talk about some of the things it's gotten me and some recommendations for how to learn it well.

What I've gotten out of learning Latin

You get multiple languages for one.

Latin, as you probably know is the ancestor of Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, etc. Once you know Latin, it is quite literally downhill learning any of these. In college, I decided to take Spanish for a degree specialization (I was doing an international business thing and required a foreign language). Merely based on my knowledge of Latin, I just tested into fifth-level Spanish and figured it out from there. I don't even remember learning Spanish, but I can speak it and still do every once in a while.

In grad school I took classes taught in Spanish and French. I can basically read all Romance languages. I even read Rhaeto-Romance poetry for fun (the languages of Switzerland). All of this is nearly free stuff when you learn Latin.

Latin will unironically red-pill you on many subjects.

Looking to other cultures in the world might change your view of things in some superficial way, but looking into the past will revolutionize how you see it. A recurring point I make in many contexts is that the past is literally an alien civilization. Most of what people pretend they know about it is repeatedly cited modern rumors about it. Seeing it in its own words is very different.

It's insane the amount of writing done in Latin in the medieval period and antiquity, so much of which isn't even on the mind of translators. A lot of historians just cite modern historians. Theologians cite modern theologians. Scientists cite modern scientists. Once you crack open a traditional book on any of these subjects you realize the provinciality and oblviousness of modern "frameworks."

In generative linguistics, people who have never read anything written before 1950 pat themselves on the back for all the "problems" they've solved not knowing they are only retreading paths long established by Stoics, Modistae and early Indo-Europeanists. There are a lot of theologians and philosophers who are trapped in modern citation circles because they don't have the power of Latin that can bring them in touch directly with Aquinas or Augustine or other philosophers of the early periods.

Knowing Latin is like an academic superpower and supposed intellectuals will fear you. Latin used to be the bare minimum of a respectable intellectual... actually... you know what, it still is. Now is your chance to have an actual one up over more pompous people whose only function is writing lit reviews with a disability to read original sources. Being privy to an original and long-neglected source will be a continuous content mill which will unironically be the envy of others in academia.

Knowing Latin is better academically than an undergraduate degree in linguistics.

The process of learning Latin and the lore around you will equip you with all the terminology and principles to make you superior to someone who just studies "linguistics" without any actual application. I really mean this. When I was a grad student in linguistics, all the brightest undergrads had one thing in common: Latin. I actually came to judge people based on how they first got interested in linguistics. The smartest ones always started with Latin, the biggest plebs always started because they liked some Steven Pinker book (sorry Pinkucks! Those are the honest facts!)

How to Learn Latin

Magister et discipuli

What I used

When I learned Latin, all I had was a copy of this book: Collar & Daniell's Beginner's Latin Book. The truth is that most old Latin books are good (old being at least 70 to 100 years old). After language learning became commercialized, it all became dismissable. You can see a list of downloadable Latin textbooks and other materials here here.

The only other source I used in the past to learn and read Latin in a biglottic Latin/Greek New Testament (i.e. Greek on the left and Latin on the right). This is probably actually the single most significant book I own, now that I think about it. I learned Greek from it too and I've had it for around 15 years now.

Lingua Latina per se Illustrata

Although I didn't know about until later, there is another very unique and excellently made Latin series called Lingua Latina per se Illustrata "The Latin Language Illustrated by Itself" by Hans Orberg. You can see an English publisher here, but you can also find them on eBay or pdfs on Library Genesis or Pirate Bay (along with audio for the books).

LLPSI is unique and really stands out. The entire book, including explanations is in Latin. Latin words and grammatical concepts are explained by illustration and example. This sounds absurd frankly: how are you supposed to learn a language from a book written in that language? But the design is so perfect that it works.

I recommend to get LLPSI and some classical grammar primer like Collar & Daniell's because I think especially for newbs, it might be necessary to have explicit instruction about grammar points in English.

Read this

Read this article: "Latin by the Dowling Method." It's back from the early internet and its recommendations have stood the test of time and I agree with them.

Latin links

You may've known about these already, but they're worth noting.


33/56 - Command Line Bibles

The Dead Sea Scrolls

I've made a couple very useful command-line accessible Bibles for a quick and scriptable lookup of Bible verses and passages. They exist not only in English, but for Latin and Greek as well.

  1. English King James Version (including Apocrypha) — Github, Gitlab, Local git server
  2. Latin Vulgate — Github, Gitlab, Local git server
  3. Greek Septuagint & New Testament — Github, Gitlab, Local git server

Installation

git clone https://github.com/lukesmithxyz/kjv.gitcd kjvsudo make install

Or just replace kjv with vul for the Latin version or grb for the Greek.

Usage

Single run

Run the program name followed by a passage. The text will appear to you in your pager. Arrows or vim-keys to scroll, q to quit.

kjv rev 3:9Revelation3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 

Note that you may also give whole books or chapters. kjv genesis will give you all of Genesis. kjv mat 1:1-10 will show only Matthew 1:1-10. Note also that you can usually abbreviate books.

Searching

/ searches for patterns. For example, kjv /offering will search the whole Bible for the word "offering." You may specify a book/location before it to search only that book.

Interactive mode

Just type kjv (or vul or grb) alone to enter interactive mode. You can then just type verses/books without prefixing them with the command name each time if you prefer.

Origin

I forked the original software from this repository which is an incomplete English King James Version (without the Apocrypha). With the use of coreutils and vim, I found online texts of the Apochrypha, Vulgate, Septuagint and the SBL New Testament and formatting them to function with this program.


34/56 - Why It's Bad to Have High GDP

To put it in other words...

The common way of looking at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is that it's a metric of economic success: more GDP is more wealth.Wealth is good. "Poverty" (meaning low per capita GDP) is bad.Nowadays, pretty much everyone talks about "economics" like this as if this truism was scribbled on the back walls of the cosmos.

This is just looking at one side of the ledger in a kind of global double-entry accounting book.A logically equivalent way of looking at it is that GDP is a metric of economic exchange required for survival in society as it exists.You can say that some area "produced" $1 billion of output (sounds good), but you can just as easily say that $1 billion was required for that area to sustain itself (sounds bad).These two are simply logically equivalent.

Living on $1 a day

Hyperborea
Antediluvian Hyperborea. GDP: $0 per year.

Let's dive into the Gestalt: when you hear that a family of eight lives on less than a dollar per day (PPP adjusted), you might wonder how they manage!To actually do such a thing would require buying large bags of rice for the whole family, eat only that and live in free cardboard boxes.

The reality is that that often uttered phrase means that they use less than $1 a day in the general economy, while the rest of their livelihood is "off-the-grid" or self-sufficient.They may grow food in a family farm, hunt for food, and most of their daily needs from cooking oils, to plates, to pottery, to soap are often made at home as well.

There is still "an economy" but often one that is barter based or socialist in the real pre-socialist sense of the word: mediated by direct face-to-face social tit-for-tat between neighbors and friends, none of this mediated by currency being exchanged, thus it is not part of the GDP.

If you read about some Bangladeshi village where the only product is "textiles", that doesn't mean that everyone there makes textiles all day and, without a textile company, everyone would've starved to death.It means that the only on-paper, measurable global industry practiced there is textile manufacturing.Other villagers might farm, hunt, even do some kind of gathering in some places.They will produce the arts and crafts and live the way people live when you leave them alone.If your view of the world is mediated by GDP, you're only seeing the extremely small sliver that pops into existence when people exchange something involving legal tender.

This is extremely difficult for us modern bugpeople to understand because to be a bugman in a large city is to produce absolutely nothing on one's own and buy literally everything you need from the store.To us non-productive people, GDP means income which means survival.But the further out of Bugmanville you go, the clearer the vacuousness of GDP becomes.When you realize that most of human wealth is unmeasured by GDP, you realize that Whig History and Steven Pinkerism is based on shaky foundations.

Example

A minor example.We had a large Thanksgiving feast near my uncle's house in very rural Florida.As it got cold in the night, we had a fire in a repurposed old sugar cane cooking vat artfully standing on used symmetrical cinderblock pieces.A bugman hipster might pay two hundred dollars or more for a similar looking "authentic" piece of equipment. Those $200 would be counted in the GDP.A bugman hipster might have also bought or rented chairs for the event, "contributing" more to the GDP, but my uncle, as part of the local wholesome church community, simply borrowed some from the church.Thus our event produced basically no GDP output in goods or services, despite being functionally equivalent to some similar but expensive and ergo "productive" "Friendsgiving" practiced by urbanites.In reality we are richer than the bugmen hipsters who blew hundreds of dollars on a faux-folksy party.In this case, we owned the firepit and had easy access and permission to the chairs, thus we are more economically flexible than they are.That GDP that they produced/expended is evidence of deeper reliance on the economic system.That GDP output is a marker of fragility, reliance on the conditions of the outside economy in the same way that a village of Bangladeshis who abandon their traditional way of lives to work on textiles are more fragile, despite being able to save up for iPhones.

What GDP really measures

Most of the increase in GDP across the world is simply the movement from local partially-social partially-under-the-table economies to economies mediated by taxable currency.An economically self-sufficient village with close social relationships and a barter economy has 0 GDP.A township of entrepreneurs and artisans you partially barter and partially use currency which they don't report has 0 GDP.All of these people are "in poverty" and "earn less than a dollar a day".And if you want to be truly self-sufficient, that means having a personal GDP of zero.

More than that, pretty much everywhere, GDP is a strong indicator of social upheaval.If you think that GDP is some eternal goodness, remember that everything "good" about industrialization shows up in the GDP, while at the same time, everything bad about it will not show up.Or, sometimes bad things are registered as positive economic growth: urbanization has caused mass-disease, and if that means a market for new medical services and pharmaceuticals, great!The GDP just went up!The Ganges is polluted due to the textile plant? That just means more opportunities for local entrepreneurs to sell bottled water!The GDP just went up!Are people being pushed out of fishing or other subsistence occupations because of it? Even better! Now they have no choice but to contribute to the GDP!With every passing year, in fact, more and more of the GDP is produced by dealing with the problems that our higher level of GDP have caused.

At the end of the day, GDP is only a measurement of how reliant a place or country is on the global economy.Self-sufficiency has a GDP of 0.Wasteful consooomerism has an extremely large GDP.

Planned obsolescence

I have one of my great grandfather's early electric circular saws.It has a bunch of gunk in it, but it still works (although I recently took it apart to replace some old screws and springs and other little parts to be careful).They literally do not make circular saws like it; it's all metal, while even the fancy modern stuff is mostly plastic.

The "unfortunate" thing about it and other durable tools is that it's "bad for the economy," especially the GDP.Since that thing has been around since maybe the 50's or 60's, that's as long as 70 years the economy has gone without the "stimulation" of us having to buy another saw.

Viewers of my technology videos: Which would be better for the world, if everyone used the material equivalent of a classic American-made IBM ThinkPad, or some Apple Laptops that are unfixable computers made of mostly batteries designed to conk out right before the new version comes out?Regardless, the Apple Macs that cost thousands a piece are much better for the "economy."

That's what I mean.If you have quality tools and do not need to constantly throw money at the system to buy things, fix things and otherwise waste money, you are going to be having a lower GDP.That's just how it is.

The propagandistic role of GDP

When you don't think things through like this, GDP is supposed to appear as an objective measure of economic goodness.You're supposed to be looking at those GDP charts and saying, "Wow, my life might be terrible, I am not free, I am subject to forces out of my control, and I am told I have to participate in mass-consumerism to survive, but these charts are the facts[!], and the facts say that things are better now, so I believe them!"

It's legitimately surprising to me how big of a boon the idea of increasing GDP is for Whig history and NPCs of many different ideologies.People of the Left and Right will matter-of-factly tell me that a plastic based economy taking over the world is still good because the line is going up.I've heard it as a justification for everything:

Don't like globalization?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't trust state-funded institutionalized science?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want child drag queens?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want everything to be made of plastics and other petrochemicals?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want mass pornography?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want free sugary drinks since infancy?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.

When you abandon the illusion of GDP, you are suddenly able to ask whethermassive technological "progress" has actually been good for real humanlife and human pychology.


35/56 - Science vs. Soyence

Soyence

There's nothing necessarily wrong with science, reason, knowledge etc. To some degree, they're fundamental for survival in this world in one way or another. But one of the more worrisome problems which have arisen since the Enlightenment, and especially in the past several years, is the fact that whenever scientific knowledge has increased, human arrogance has accelerated even faster. This isn't a metaphysical, moral arrogance; it's one that is more and more jeopardizing the human cosmos.

We live in a pop-scientific and pop-technological world. Because common people are constantly weighing themselves down with new gadgets and state-of-the-art genetically engineered food, there's a tendency to want to pay homage to the amorphous blob of "knowledge." Of course, much like the Greek Gods, we cannot seem to speak to "knowledge" directly, or to mentally murky academics, but only to official mediators: journalists and "science communicators" and the like.

The religious metaphor is intentional. Of course the actual view of Popperian science is that scientific "advancement" is less of an increase in knowledge than a decrease in falsity. We can never be sure of what is true, but we can gradually establish what is false and contradictory; science does exclusively the latter. Real scientific work refutes and calls into question established fact and is in a constant self-regeneration. Facts mean nothing in themselves.

And scientific models, from our models of the atom, to models of the Earth's weather and climate, to models of our body are highly circumstantial, and as a rule, will nearly all inevitably be proven false. Theories are the narratives we cast over facts which have not yet been ruled false. We know nearly nothing of how the brain works. Sure, we know there are synapses, and we know what brains end up doing in some circumstances, but we haven't begun to scratch the surface of how a brain is actually engineered (computational models be damned). The same is true of the human body and is especially true of human society.

Now Neil deGrasse Tyson has the annoying mantra that he repeats at every possible opportunity, which goes something like: "the good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." First off, I don't know what's good about that; it'd be pretty damn convenient to live in a world where we could imagine away gravity or CO2 or cancer, but aside from this, science, actual science as a critical methodology is manifestly not true and is not the truth. Science is a way of marginally approaching truth by discovering falsity, and in most endeavors, this approachment is so marginal as to be inert in all our daily lives. There is nothing to "believe in" in science anyway, because it's an exposer of non-truth.

But in pop-science, Science® is "knowledge" and deviation from the scientific catechism is "irrational." It's not just irrational to dispute consensus, but irrational to fail to implement it in your personal life.

In Practice

The greatest danger of pop-science is the unquestioned assumption that life should be led "scientifically." That we should "look for evidence," "question everything," and universally "challenge authority" (unless that authority is a professor). The problem should be blatantly obvious in hindsight.

An obvious example: in the 20th century, Western societies had to deal with the very real problem of a bizarre increase in lung cancer rates. We "know" now that smoking tobacco and other substances apparently cause drastically higher lung cancer rates, but this was lost on the people at the time.

The relationship between smoking and cancer was highly circumstantial; there were some statistical correlations established, but as any pop-science guru will tell us "correlation is not causation!" For decades, scientifically minded people looked for evidence while millions more died. Smoking companies took refuge in the fact that there was no mechanism understood behind how smoking could cause lung cancer. With all scientific rigor, they insisted for decades that the increase in lung cancer was due to something else, or merely an increase in diagnosis capacity. And they were on the side of scientific skepticism!

Only now that there is some understanding of how carcinogens in smoke can damage the lungs can we say that the "scientific consensus" is that smoking causes lung cancer. Cute, but if people had been "irrationally" cautious, the human tragedy would've been substantially mitigated.

The problem is that "looking for evidence" before acting or non-acting is personally and socially dangerous. In nearly all circumstances, our intuition (crafted by millions of years of evolution) or social norms (which keep us to established safe routes) are much better guides to life than the scientific consensus, despite them being "irrational" (and sorry, religion is part of this too). When someone guzzles down some newly fabricated energy drink or gallons of soda, they're nearly certainly damaging their bodies in ways science does not yet understand. Don't wait 40 years for some longitudinal peer-reviewed study to prove that eating plastic is bad for you. Trust your instincts before you give credence to some YouTuber who says inane things like "There's no evidence that..."

My favorite little "irrationality" that we all commit is of course, sleep. After millennia of trying to understand it, there is no established scientific reason or justification for why humans "need" sleep. Sure there are hypotheses (memory processing, repair, maybe even something Freudian), but none close to common currency. In the words of one of the world's most prominent sleep researchers, William Denent, "As far as I know, the only reason we need to sleep that is really, really solid is because we get sleepy." Of course the absence of logical evidence to the necessity of sleep keeps no NdGT fan from wasting their time on the "Bronze-Age Myth" of the importance of sleep.

(Not) (Mis-)Understanding Complex Systems

The human body is a complex system in which every "system" is overlapping, somewhat redundant, all-affecting and fundamentally beyond linear analysis. Our scientific studies can find binary variables that correlate with a low p value, but that tells us nothings about what's actually going on and nothing about the underlying mechanisms. Again, the same is true of the human brain and the same is true of human society. Nothing is a simple input-output system.

What this means is that basically nothing from the world of pop-science can ever affect the basics of our lives because the interaction of our component parts are just non-amenable to any kind of generalizations that make intuitive sense to us. Everything we do affects out bodies in ways we can't predict so the proper strategy is always an "irrational" precaution and avoidance of novelty.

Things, of course, get especially touchy when talking about the "rational" management of society. Every good denizen of the post-Enlightenment world, even most of those on the "Right" have the idea that the economy and social relationships are simple one-to-one hydraulic systems that can be managed like a little steam engine. Now we've been rationally managed to hell and not back (and the solution is always more rational management).

The terrible truth is that traditional social norms are irrational and still do exist for a reason in the perennial gale of social evolution. Social change and social progress (note the lack of scare quotes) have always been happening, but only now do we have the naive idea that the units of society (people) have the competence to design and contribute to an otherwise unconscious evolution of social memes.

Anyway, I'll give the last word on this issue to Noam Chomsky, who somehow manages to say something clear and admirable on the subject:

Science is a very strange activity. It only works for simple problems. Even in the hard sciences, when you move beyond the simplest structures, it becomes very descriptive. By the time you get to big molecules, for example, you are mostly describing things. The idea that deep scientific analysis tells you something about problems of human beings and our lives and our inter-relations with one another and so on is mostly pretense in my opinion—self-serving pretense which is itself a technique of domination and exploitation and should be avoided. Professionals certainly have the responsibility of not making people believe that they have some special knowledge that others can't attain without special means or special college education or whatever. If things are simple, they should be said simply; if there is something serious to say that is not simple, then, fine, that's good and interesting. We can perhaps find deep answers to certain questions that do bear directly on issues of human interest and concern, but that is rarely true.

"'Science' 'Communicators'"

One of the worst aspects of all of this is that this understanding of pop-science encourages people to distrust what they know or can judge of the world in favor of the caricature of the consensus of institutionalized academics. People have this idea that there are these intellectual, peer-reviewed demigods in universities who discover the secrets to the universe and communicate them through their messengers stationed at BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. Betraying their infinite wisdom would make you "irrational" or a "fundie." The reality is that these demigods really just went to graduate school because they were lazy and initiativeless, and even in the abstract, most of their real work has nothing to do with your life whatsoever. It's only the messengers that convince you of that because it stimulates their power trip.

Science journalists, much like journalists generally, are people too incompetent and emotional to work in the private sector, too dumb to be academics (and the standards are abysmally low these days), too full of themselves to work in charity and too bumbling, weak and arrogant to work in a blue collar or manual occupation. Journalism is an attractive career to many because it demands the least rigor and honor and promises the greatest power and influence.

Their self-ordained duty is to overwhelm the public with a confusion of "studies" that increasingly seem to micromanage a neurotic person's life. "Studies show that" classical music may help infant brain growth, or that gluten ravages the intestines, or that simply owning more books causes higher scholastic achievement, or that Vitamin C or antioxidants or kale or whatever health-food de jour solve all the world's problems.

At the end of the day, the worst part is that we talk about "science" as if it's some kind of anthropomophic creature with desires and feelings and a plan for us all. It's a uniquely modern flaw to say things like, "Science tells us that..." "Science is about.." "Science is against..." Does this not strike anyone else as creepy? The interpretation of science forced on the public is a scriptural one, where law to live life by are codified in "peer-reviewed" journals and communicated by intermediaries. 'Science's' purview is infinite and any failure to conform is some congenital failure or reason.


36/56 - Hedonism, Asceticism and the Hermetic Answer

The modern world more or less gives you the philosophical choice of either Hedonism or Asceticism.You never really hear it in those terms, but that's how it is.

Hedonism living for pleasure.Your default lifestyle is eating whatever, watching Netflix and playing video games irrespective of how late it is.You watch porn, masturbate, have sex as much as you can and any consequences of any of this are just facts of life which you view as either out of your control or worth the suffering.You might not use drugs because you are worried of the hedonistic damage it can cause, but you're at least chill with people who do.At a basic level, modern society is hedonistic because it more or less openly holds as highest moral value what can stimulate people the most.You know this is the case because anyone who condemns hedonistic behavior will immediately be judged as judgemental.

Asceticism is supposed to be the smart alternative.Asceticism is rejecting pleasure, normal life and anything else enjoyable in the world as morally inferior to some higher non-physical ideal.Buddhism, which rejects the physical world, has become a popular meme philosophy in the West and is highly acetic.Vegans are acetic: they abandon basic life for their own principles and intense vegans will eventually start talking about "transcending" and "vibrations" and non-sense.Look at the anti-global warming movements and they fall perfectly, almost neurotically into this category.Asceticism come in many forms nowadays, but it is always a reaction to the indulgences of hedonism.

The Poetic Worldview

Hermes
Hermes Trismegistus,
author of the Hermetic Corpus

The Poetic Worldview is the solution.Don't worry, it has nothing to do with poetry.

The Greek word that poetry/poetic comes from actually is just a generic word for make, create, produce.The word "poetry" originally just meant something like "creative output."

This view is tied into early Platonism and monotheism.The physical universe is a creation or manifestation or "the One" or "the Source" or really God.God is the ultimate creator, and an individual is good insofar as he reflects this creative tendency of God.We see it expounded in the Hermetic Corpus:

The other name of God is Father, again because He is thethat-which-maketh-all.The part of father is to make. To Asclepius (17), from the Hermetic Corpus

In the Poetic Worldview, the highest moral goal is creation.That can be:

From the Poetic worldview, hedonism is evil because it is expending otherwise creative energy into nothing of consequence.Racking up video-game achievements that no one will ever know or care of but you,watching pornography, pursuing fleeting relationships,impulsively wasting time browsing the internet and fiddling with social media.

This passive and impulsive pleasure-seeking reduces someone's ability to live as intended, instead, they are prisoners to their lusts and conveniences:

But whatsoever human souls have not the Mind as pilot, they share in the same fate as souls of lives irrational.For [Mind] becomes co-worker with them, giving full play to the desires towards which [such souls] are borne,—[desires] that from the rush of lust strain after the irrational; [so that such human souls,] just like irrational animals, cease not irrationally to rage and lust, nor ever are they satiate of ills.For passions and irrational desires are ills exceeding great; and over these God hath set up the Mind to play the part of judge and executioner. About the Common Mind (4), from the Hermetic Corpus

Hedonism is additionally harmful because it isn't even hedonistic.It's clumsy and self-destructive.Spend your life from ages 16-23 playing videogames, masturbating and smoking weed and you have destroyed your capacity to enjoy life, sex and have normal interactions with normal people.Your capacity for enjoyment ends and you fall into asceticism as a cope.

Asceticism is just as evil because it sees this issue with the hedonistic lifestyle and tosses up its hands in surrender.It internalizes the lie that wasteful and sinful living is somehow obviously funner—when they see they aren't actually having fun, they throw the whole world away.

Most ascetics are liars anyway.They pretend to reject pleasure and worldly things, but they often just seek it in perverted or unconventional ways.There are men who call themselves MGTOW (Men going their own way) who "swear off" women.In reality, most of them are just desperate porn-addicted men who just can't get the girl they want.

Contrary to all of this, having a Poetic view proposes that the more moral and also most enjoyable life is one where one is constantly creating something new out of what he is given.In Hermetic thinking (and, well, Christian thinking) man must hold God as the idea to emulate.Since God's principle feat is creation from nothing, our goal is to celebrate that creation by making something new and productive from the raw materials we have.

Asceticism views the material world as a mistake or illusion which leads people to reject life itself.The Poetic view is that the physical world is a reflection of its spiritual state, and what you do in the physical world reflects your spiritual stature.

The Poetic view is somewhat similar to Nietzsche's Will to Power,which was an attempt to unite both human and material sciences under the idea that the ideal is maximizing one'soutput on the external world.Will to Power is a little more morally ambivalent though; it can include destruction, while Poeticism merely values creative power.

Distractions are literally evil.

This is why I highly condemn wasteful activities like videogames and pornography and social media.They are principally habits that divert your natural energies into something absolutely sterile.Many people ask me What can I do to be more productive? and I have to say that the most important thing is to remove inert distractions and habits.

Due to bureaucratic workplaces and bureaucratic education, there are many modern people who just don't know what it means to be productive.Most of their lives might be someone trying to fill their day with busywork.Since the normal enjoyable ritual of creative output is unknown to them, this causes a kind of aimlessness and the feelings of inferiority that comes with that.

But in truth, you live at an ideal period in that you can have a highly impactful and ergo poetic effect on the world using internet technology and the higher material standard of living.The only trick is to sidestep the distractions of hedonism that turns you into a passive consumer and the apathy of asceticism.


37/56 - Veganism Is the Pinnacle of Bugmanism

People have quoted me as saying that.I forget where it comes from, probably a livestream, but I definitely stand by it.Since a lot of people labor under the assumption that my channel is about "Linux," I've accumulated a lot of subscribers that are variously nerds, furries, degenerates, coomers, libertarians, communists, trannies and among them are vegans.Some of them (I assume) are good people.

There's a stereotype about vegans that they are annoying and can't talk about anything but Veganism.This hurtful stereotype comes from the fact that it's true.

Grill

Bugmanism

Firstly, what is Bugmanism?How do Vegans fit the bill?

Long story short, a bugman is someone who rejects the purpose and role of humans in their natural environment.They reject tradition, religion, their family, gender roles, the expectation that a person should contribute to their community, etc.They might do this for their personal convenience (usually they just wanna coom outside of marriage)or for apparently rational reasons, but the effect is the same.

If you want to sum up the esoterically evil goals of "modernism" or whatever you want to call it, it is destroying the countervailing power of tradition and in its place, new social engineers attempt to dictate human values top down.If you separate people from their families, their races, their traditions and who they actually are, you can engineer TV shows, sports teams, activist movements and a million other things for them to identify with and worship.Modernism pretends to liberate people from arbitrary traditions and authorities, when in reality is substitutes natural, emergent morals with controlled authorities.

Veganism has always been one of the most radical examples of this logic.Esoterically, Veganism forces one to abandon not just their own traditions, but every human dietary tradition and leaves them at the whims of processed grains and pharmaceutical supplements for a meager survival.

That is, Veganism is highly disruptive:You can't have a normal life.You can't have a normal meal.You can't wine and dine with people and must make it an affair.You can't use traditional hand-made leather products.You can't hunt or trap for food or raise animals, even for eggs.

You become a nag at war with your family, the world around you.You are trapped within urbanite bugman society:you can't even eat in most non-urban places or foreign countries because the insane concept of not cooking with animal fats and eating and using animal products just doesn't exist.You have to survive holding your breath from one hipster downtown area to the next.

On every point, you become more reliant on macro-society.Vegans try very hard to give off "organic" vibes, but it's just a lie.Even people on the internet who "advertise" their Vegan lifestyle spend hours processing a basic meal and of course predigesting indigestible plant matter with a blender.Try and find a non-urbanite Vegan in real life.They exist, but they are an aberration.

The LARP of "Vegan for Health"

Vegans sometimes pretend to advertise Veganism because it's allegedly healthy.This is just public relations; any true Vegan, when you really pin them down thinks that Veganism at its core is a moralistic belief.Vegans are Vegans because they believe that not being Vegan is morally deficient: killing/eating animals and using their bodies is bad.That's it.

So you have your moral principle and run with it.What magical force then is making that moral principle necessarily good for your health?If Veganism were actually a good diet for humans, that would actually be a massive coincidence."Vegans for health" have to grapple with the bizarre claim that meat,exactly the food that has been viewed in all human cultures as superior and more desirableis somehow nutritionally deficient.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is Plant-based.

The weirdest thing is when Veganism is held in opposition to the Standard American Diet, as if the American diet somehow represents traditional or non-Vegan diets.The SAD is just Vegan-lite.SAD is a post-Vegan invention of the diet industry take over the past decades has been leading people into the most harmful parts of vegan diets: unstable plant-oils, processed grains as meat substitutes, etc.

The pop-cultural idea of "health" is simply "being skinny."Veganism is great at making people skinny because it is slow moving starvation (I have met some carbo-loading exceptions who fatten up).

Veganism is just to starvation what waterboarding is to drowning.If you stick with it, you will eventually die, but it's so painful in the meantime, you'll probably give up.

Veganism is rational.

Vegans are exceptionally "rational" in that they adopt the moral framework of modern society and follow it to its logical conclusion.

When you're given for your acceptance someinane religious platitudes like "equality" and "rights" along withvaguely Marxist notions of "exploitation" and "slavery" and "oppressed classes," it seems perfectly reasonable to expand that language to the relationship between predators (humans) and their prey (many animals) (or maybe pets too).

If you're raised in a time of extreme moral nihilism except for not liking the several historical events you're told that matter (usually slavery and the Holocaust), obviously you're going to glom on to what looks most like them: chickens in chains and sheep being led to slaughter like sheep to slaughter.

Honestly, Veganism by their own logic might not be far enough.There is some circumstantial research to the effect that plants have nervous systems that might feel pain as well: you could go one step further and simply eat nothing living.The Ctistae of ancient Thrace refused to eat anything alive, eating only by-products/foodstuffs like milk and honey.The Ctistae also refused to have sex, which might be something to consider since Vegans eventually lose sexual function anyway.

Veganism is rebellious.

Veganism has the same kind of "rebellion" that all other forms of leftism share.It "rebels" against the system by perfectly internalizing the system's values,extrapolating them to their logical conclusionsand thus fighting the system when it fails to meet those obviously unworkable conclusions.

Corporations started shilling vegetable oils (which originally were and frankly still are just industrial by-products) as workable replacements for butter and lard.Seventh-Day Adventists lobbied for them because of their own religion beliefs.Jews lobbied for them because they hate unkosher lard.Years later, now we know that vegetable oils are highly unstable and have contributed to the massive rise in heart disease.

Veganism is a leftist phenomenon.The psychological type of a leftist is such that they will always subordinate their direct experience to ideology.It doesn't matter if not eating meat or wearing leather or using animal products sounds hard, their suffering is more proof of a greater moral superiority.

Non-leftists can simply not become Vegans for longer than extremely brief periods.Even if a Vegan wins an argument with them, a normal person is just going to say, "I'm sorry, I like animals and all, but I can't not eat them, that's just crazy."

Veganism only makes sense in a bugman environment.

Ask a vegan why he doesn't eat eggs.He will probably tell you a spooky story about how terrible it must be for a chicken to live in a coop laying eggs all day.That might even bring a tear to a sentimental persons eye.

Out where I live, people have their chickens wandering in their yards and garden pecking scraps.They return to their coops at night to be safe from coyotes.Is there really something "unethical" in the mind of a Vegan about picking up an unfertilized egg lain by one of these chickens and eating it?

A lot of the moral logic behind Veganism falls flat outside of bugman capitalism.Fundamentally, it's another manifestation of general angst from lack of connection to the real natural world.

I say this because most Vegans are Vegans because they are softies who have literally no connection to animals whatsoever until as a teenager they watched a PETA documentary with chickens getting their heads buzzed off or pigs walking around in their own poop.

Literally think about the animals.When wild animals die in nature, they don't slowly slip away in the night surrounded by their family.They die of starvation, or by being ripped apart alive by packs of coyotes.Would you rather die by getting your brains blown out instantaneously or die a "natural" death like this?

But to the original question, it really makes no sense even for a Vegan to not eat or distribute the eggs a chicken lays... You're going to have to get deep into Marxist analysis to think that's somehow unethical.And once a chicken has living a long life of egg laying, why not quickly and painlessly dislocate its neck and eat it for dinner?If you don't, your cat will eventually gore it and it'll be a mess.

Chicken food

Animals live to be eaten.

This isn't even a metaphysical claim.Domesticated cows and pigs and chickens do not and cannot live as they exist in the wild.They have evolved symbiotically with us as sources of food.They can go feral and breed with wild boar and the like, but their composition is based on their domesticated state.

Wild game like deer have lived alongside human hunters for centuries.Their breeding habits and evolutionary development is based in the fact that a sizeable portion of their population will be hunted by humans every season.

If you actually care about "the environment" (1) you would care for humans, whose natural diet is meat and(2) you would be terriblyworried about the unintended consequences of severing one of the most important links in the food chain.

Dumb Vegan sayings

"You wouldn't kill it yourself!"

They say this whenever someone turns their eyes away from an animal being killed in one of their Vegan propaganda videos.

Guess what, I also might turn away if I see a video of a sanitation worker wading through human feces it in a sewer.That doesn't mean that I'm a hypocrite for taking dumps in a toilet connected to city sewage.

I turn away when I see depictions of amputations of gangrenous limbs in movies too.That doesn't mean I don't think it's not medically necessary.

Killing animals is actually a bad example of this because while all cultures are disgusted by feces and amputations, in most times and places (including this country before Bambi), killing animals was nothing any self-respecting grown man would react to.It goes without saying that there are many countries where people recreationally torture dogs and cats.

I don't say that to say that I'd be okay with killing dogs and cats, merely that the trained moral responses we have for them are very localized and subjective in our own modernist viewpoint.But Millenials have now been raised in a Disney fantasy-land where animals think and talk like us and therefore must share the same feelings.Vegans absurdly "imagine what it'd be like" to live in industrial farming as if a chicken's birdbrain is having an existential crisis while living in a cage.

"Veganism is minimal or more self-sufficient."

Vegans have been fruitlessly trying to meme this one on me for forever.Starvation and death is minimal, I suppose, so it is at least true in that sense.Veganism is ultimately the diet of only eating inedible garnish that looks "good" on Instagram.

Raising most animals is easier and more efficient than raising vegetables.If it's too hot, potatoes don't naturally know to go move to the shade.Yams don't eat your overgrown grass.Onions don't poop out fertilizer.Tomatoes can't pull a simple tractor.You can't skin dead okra and make leather out of it.You can't grind up old mustard to make bonemeal (that's not just something in Minecraft, by the way).

Animals are an absolutely necessary portion of any homestead in life and death.Listen, I like growing stuff. I like growing vegetables.But vegetables are just not real food...They are garnish.They are sides.They are only enjoyable insofar as they elevate your enjoyment of real food: meat.

"Veganism is more efficient or environmental."

People say that eating plants is more "efficient" because they saw an energy pyramid diagram as a kid, which shows how many prey animals are needed to maintain carnivorous animals.If we actually lived in a place where there was a calorie shortage, like a desert planet where greens couldn't grow, that might be an issue.It frankly just isn't here.We're not exactly running out of grass to feed cows. Most people are mowing their grass and throwing it away.

There are people who make really absurd environmentalist arguments against meat as well, for example, methane from cows warms the globe.Okay. Fine.So what does Veganism do about that?Are Vegans going to kill the cows for us?Should we just let them starve in the woods since we can't harvest them for meat or even milk?What about all the game we won't be hunting?Those 50% of deer annually that we won't be killing—won't they me causing pollution with the huge amount of calories they need to frolic in the woods all days?Same will all other game.Most of those arguments are cute just-so stories and they fall apart after examination.Anyone can play that game.

Let's just laugh at this for a minute...

Alright class, look at this commonly posted vegan meme and tell me why it's retarded:

Vegan protein

"Per 100 calories" shows a deception so insane you should laugh.Whoever made this image wants you to believe that the piece of steak on the fork is equivalent to the tiny broccoli head on the right.

You can compare the nutrition of both broccoli and beef at those links yourself.

In order to get the protein in a single large bite of steak, you'll have to eat more than half a pound of broccoli.Good luck.Now you know why those poor impressionable girls who go vegan bloat up.And that's only 100 calories.2000 calorie diet? Have fun.If you're famished, it's pretty easy to eat a big steak with 2000 calories (around a pound and a half of matter) and it will fill you up without any bloating or stomach pains.You'd have to eat twelve pounds more or less of broccoli or equivalent greens for that.And with all that fiber, you're going to just be pooping it all out.

Honestly, the human disgust response will stop you way before that.It's easy to eat a juicy steak without or without sauce, salt and pepper, but you'd nearly have to put a gun to someone's head to make them eat their daily 13 pounds of indigestible garnish.

Noootruits don't actually matter anyway

"Plants don't have over fifteen micro-nooootrients..."
sv3rige, at the end of every video

A lot of Vegan autism gets focused on replicating the consumption of known nutrients and minerals using only plants.The image above, in addition to being deceptive is based on a flawed idea that human nutruition is about consuming particular amounts of particular substances as if we are a perfectly predictable machine or a videogame.This isn't just a Vegan problem, basically everyone implicitly has this idea.

The reality is that those nutrients on the Nutrition Facts are a narrow realm of what might actually be relevant for the complex organ of our bodies.Additionally, there are many types of proteins and vitamins and minerals that the back-of-the-box doesn't account for.The Vegan game of saying, "we can get that too" is utterly pointless when you realize we have nowhere close to a full idea of how the human body works, only some plausible theories about the relationships between certain nutrients and what they seem to do.As in the case of some nutrients, like the falsely-maligned cholesterol is a good example of something two generations of people were told to fear and reduce only for us to later realize that our ideas about how it interacted in the body were arguably literally backwards.


38/56 - Learn Chinese

Qing Flag

Chinese is the hardest language to learn according to normies who have never tried to learn it.

In reality, Chinese is really easy. It has literally no complex morphology: no tense, plurals, gender. It doesn't have irregular verbs or nouns because it has no verb and noun endings whatsoever. It's almost difficult to explain how easy Chinese is.

The only different thing is the writing system which is I hesitate to say anachronistic. The Chinese character system is more structurally similar to Sumerian cuneiform than to English morphophonemic writing. That presents a unique hurdle, but one if properly tackled is not too difficult and also edifying. It's important to realize in any case that learning a language and learning its writing system are two separate things.

Knowing this is important for mastering or even beginning Chinese.

These are the best Chinese Books

The Yale series by John DeFrancis is not just the absolute best for learning Chinese, but they are an eternal exemplar of basically the best you can do for any language. The books all have generic names and they're linked below with audio. The books are massive. Even if you just get "Beginning Chinese" and "Beginning Chinese Reader, Part 1," you'll know around 4 semesters worth of Chinese compared to your average university course. They have free audio too. Remember that if you get nervous about their price tags, which might be as high as $50. These books are severely worth it though.

There are actually two parallel book series in the DeFrancis/Yale series: the green books, which cover the spoken language (in Romanization) and the red books (the readers) that cover characters. It might sound strange to cover the language itself and the characters separately, but it is massively superior.

The Green Books (for the language)

Beginning Chinese

The great thing about the main series is that they come with many, many exercises and drills which are actually good for individual use. Books that expect you to read something once and internalize it are irreparable.

Links are to the official Yale site. Probably better to buy on eBay or something though. Worth the money even when they are expensive.

You can get .pdfs of all these books on Library Genesis. I have physical copies, except some an ex-girlfriend borrowed and never gave back. If you read this, you better send them back!

Note that I've also linked audio that was recorded for these books, which is great. They used to cost a lot too, but now they're free! Unfortunate thing is that you can only get them via iTunes, which I know none of my subscribers have. Years ago I had just downloaded them for myself on someone else's computer so I guess that's what you'll have to do too!

The Red Books (for characters)

Beginning Chinese Reader

The reason the language in transliteration and the characters are in two books is because learning them is really two different processes. The green books are more typical language learning books. The red books/readers are different.

Every chapter, they teach you 10 characters, but with those 10 characters, you might learn to combine them into 50 new words based on them. The pacing here is for only learning the essential and most used characters as simply as possible as you advance. The readers do not explain grammar and expect you to be advancing in the green books to understand grammatical things.

The Blue Books?

I won't link them because they sort of the defeat the point, and I don't have them, but there is also a blue series which is just the green series but with the language in characters. I think it's intended more for classes that can't do the DeFrancis method due to bureaucratic constraints. If it has the exercises of the green books, that's good and all, but really the value of the system is the fact that when you do the spoken language in the green books, you don't have to worry about unknown characters and when you do the characters in the red book, that's all you need to pay attention to.

I'm not dismissing the blue books, because the quality of the Yale/DeFrancis series is still light-years ahead of all other series, but I'd stick with the classics here.

Notes about Chinese

The tone cope

I remember having normalfriends in my Chinese class (which was a waste of time, just get the DeFrancis books) who would say that Chinese wasn't too hard "except for the tones." Mandarin Chinese has four tones that distinguish words. If you've sat through your first day in Chinese class or even seen a YouTube video on Chinese, you know this.

Normies see this alien concept of having tones and they turn their brains off. There were kids in my class who said they'd "just not learn" the tones. Which is sort of like saying you're going to learn English, but not the vowels "because they're too hard."

Actually around half of the world's languages have tones. They are not bizarre or highly "marked" in an objective sense. They are much more common that the "th" sound in English. You can bear it.


39/56 - The Parable of Alien Chess

A parable on the Logical Postivist "interpretation" of scientific models.

Alien

The Parable

Suppose an alien race comes to Earth and wants to observe our games.They are very interested in chess, despite the fact that they have eyes with properties that make it impossible to make out what actually happens on a chess board.(The whites and blacks and squares all blur together.)

They can still learn about chess experimentally, they know they can sit two players (a so-called "white" and "black" player) down to play it, and they can tell behaviorally who at the end wins.

After extensive experimentation, they realize this: 50% of the time, the white player wins and 50% of the time, the black player wins (we'll ignore draws and any first-move advantage for the example).

The "best" model

A logical positivist alien thus creates the ultimate, long-term model of chess as an iterated game:Chess amounts to just a drawn-out coin flip.Half of the time white wins, half of the time black wins, just as if they were tossing a quarter.

The aliens then decide to model chess as a coin flip, as a 50-50 game with no underlying principles.While this statistical technique might not be useful for predicting a single game, over the long run and over iterated games, it is the most efficient and parsimonious possible model.

"Inferior" models

Suppose, however that a "crank" scientist of the alien race posits that "God doesn't play dice" and that chess is a more complicated game, despite the fact that the aliens cannot observe it.Suppose even he asks around and determines from humans that there are actually pieces on the board with functions, and he even devises a machine that allows his alien eyes to see the first move of the game of chess.

Seeing this move allows him to create a new theory and model of the game,one that takes into account the first move made and he tries to generate a new set of probabilities of victory based on that move.The model he makes, is of course highly arbitrary, stipulated and ad hoc.In fact,this model is inferior on many inevitable accounts.For example:

  1. It is less predictive over iterated games than the coin flip model.
  2. It is not as parsimonious/minimal as the coin flip model.
  3. It adds new variables to the theory (pieces) that are suspect.

Which model is "right?"

Which model is closer to truth?

Since we, unlike the aliens, are not prevented by defect from observing chess, we know that the second, "inferior" theory of chess is truer.Its theoretical categories, if apparently arbitrary in the eyes of the aliens, are getting at the actual underlying mechanics of chess.Even if the model is less effective, it is certainly righter.

Which will cause fruitful scientific inquiry?

The coin flip model is a scientific dead-end.Firstly, the coin flip model is constructed statistically, which presents the underlying mechanism to be randomness, and thus unworth of inquiry.This isn't statistics hoisted above random variation we know to exist, instead, it's utterly blind statistics that covers over whatever principles underlie it.

Secondly and more importantly, in order to actually improve that model, it has to lose empirical solvency:embracing the abstractions of pieces means introducing mess anddeviating in some way from the empircal generalization that half of all chess games are won by white and half by black.

This is not an abnormal circumstance.

The parable here, really an example is not abnormal.In most affairs in science, whether that be physics or neuroscience or economics or chemistry, we are exactly like the partially-blind aliens.

"But science isn't about truth!"

Yeah, it is dude.

Even if you are pretending that science is about "models" or fitting equations and the like, again, the well-fit model is impossible to perfect, while the flawed, yet more true to reality model does have a potential over the long-term to be a superior one.After exhaustive inquiry, an alien race might not only discover the pieces and the full set of rules behind chess, they might be able to predict what moves are good or bad and predict individual chess games.Even on the standards of mere instrumentalism, the mindless positivistic theory is still actually inferior.

Local maxima

Local maximum

The plot

One of the ways I visualize science and models is that each model is really like an n-dimensional optimization plot."Truth," or if you deny truth as metaphysics, "accuracy in data" or "well-fit equations" are upwards and the goal of science is to get further that way.

At the point you're at, you can tell which direction you can go to move upward, or, which little changes you can make to improve your model.That is what incremental science is, after all: don't change assumptions and just fine-tune your equations.The endless fine-tuning is sometimes thought of as "progress."Of course I don't think that this is bad, but it is a very minor and scientifically less important part of science as a whole.

The reality of incremental science is that once you're at a local maximum, once you've fine-tuned your equations about as perfectly as possible,it's over.Everything next to you looks like a disimprovement.It looks just like those inferior theories of alien chess that posit the existence of pieces.From that, you might erroneously conclude that you have found the global maximum, whichdue to the nature of the complexity of the universe and the multiplicity ofpossible answers and theories, you flatly haven't.

Logical positivism is kind of theoretical lobotomy that implicitly tells scientists that they should never, ever, ever change foundational assumptions:tweaking equations like an oblivious autist is Science®️ and everything else is "philosophy" or "metaphysics" or "pseudoscience."This amounts to keeping each scientific field on whatever local maximum is closest, utterly unable to extricate themselves from it even when they see on the horizon abberant data.If you want to understand the stagnation of science or any other specific field, this is where it comes from.

Purposefully "bad" science

In Against Method, Paul Feyerabend, in what an unreflective mind might misinterpret as a "troll," says that it is important for science that people have biases, financial interests, interfering religious and political doctrines and the like in science.Looking at the plot, you might now see why.When we are stuck on a local maximum, every new data keeps our already-optimized model where it is no matter how low that maximum actually is.What you need to shake it up is an external shock that totally moves our theoretical position somewhere new on the plot where we can try to optimize at another point, and then compare.

Basic assumptions

A prudent person should be able to question, "Am I even on the right track or am I playing with some model that has a fundamental flaw?"I can guarantee you, optimizing for data and fitting math and equations is easy.All theoretical programs are wrong because they make incorrect core assumptions.This is very hard for the ego of scientists because it means:

  1. Possibly illiterate dilettantes on the internet might see and bring to attention legitimate theoretical flaws.
  2. All the years you spend in graduate school counting angels on pinheads in your respective theoretical framework is mostly a waste of time.
  3. The borders of science are borders more of a sociological club than being the border of raw rigor.
  4. Most of the scientific work is not meaningful outside of the theoretical framework that gave rise to it.


40/56 - We Want Our 4 Causes Back!

Aristotle, a medieval depiction

Aristotle, in his Physics argued that there are four causes behind everything that exists. These causes answer the question of "How" or "Why" something is the way it is.

The Material Cause
The material from which something is made. E.g. the stone of a statue.
The Efficient Cause
The external force that causes something to be made. E.g. the artisan and his tools who make a statue.
The Formal Cause
The form or plan of the thing made that define it. E.g. the artisan's written or thought blueprints or sketch of plans for how to make the statue.
The Final Cause
The goal and reason of the thing. E.g. the purpose for which the artisan is making the statue.

If the statue lacks any one of the four causes, it will not be made.

The Demise of the Formal and Final Causes

If you want to point your finger at a single philosophical change that defines the shift from the Aristotelean worldview of antiquity and the Middle Ages to the materialism of modernity, it is the rejection of the Formal and Final Causes in the early Enlightenment.

Just ask your modern brain: "Does everything really have a purpose?" You will probably reflexively think back "No," therefore, you do not believe in a Final Cause to everything. The same is true of the Formal Cause, both of them seeming to assume that there is a kind of conscious agency behind the action. That isn't strictly speaking how Aristotle intended them, but that's how they are interpreted through modern goggles.

You can see their rejection as early as the 1600's: Francis Bacon in Novum Organum pushed aside the Final Cause as only being only suitable for inter-human behavior. The Formal Cause, he dismissed merely as desperata "hopeless." He actually dismissed the vocabulary of the other two causes as being superficial and an irrelevant distinction too, but philosophically, they are still retained in his philosophy by other terms.

In any case, modern people do not believe in Final and Formal Causes, or if they do, not for everything in the cosmos. For Aquinas and others in the Aristotelean world, the question of whether the universe has a purpose or a formal plan is a kind of tautology. Of course it does! Everything non-random does in Aristotelianism.

The Final Cause in Nature?

Now our post-materialist view of the Final Cause is sort of different from Aristotle's original view. We have to remember that Aristotle viewed grammar and cognition as something that in some way was directly reflective of reality itself. Compare this view shared with the so-called "Speculative Grammarians" of the Middle Ages, "speculative" coming from the Latin word speculum "mirror", since grammar reflects reality. This common strand stretches from Aristotle to those influenced by his work like Priscian and Bacon (Roger (who was based), not Francis (who was p. cringe)).

Nowadays we atomize questions like "Why" to the point that even causality itself doesn't mean anything and is a mere human cognitive convention, but for Aristotle, the linguistic existence of "Why" questions means that there is a legitimate logical equivalent to "Why" in reality.

Aristotle originally had argued that it is appropriate to refer to the Final Cause of something whenever it is not due to randomness or spontaneity. The example he uses is the growth of human teeth: there is no variance in where the molar and incissors grow within the human mouth. Everything appears where it's "supposed to" and we can assume that there is some kind of Final Cause behind this.

If different shapes and sizes teeth grew in different locations of the mouth, then it would be appropriate to talk of them as lacking a Final Cause. Things that appear randomly and inconsistently do not necessarily have Final Causes, but if something happens invariably, we can trust that it has a Final Cause.

Darwin "Got It Wrong" too?

So how far are moderns willing to take the rejection of the Formal and Final Causes?

One of my old Ph.D. advisors, Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini wrote a book with Jerry Fodor called What Darwin Got Wrong. You can withhold your kneejerk reactions; it's not a creationist book or anything, but it almost ended up being as controversial—it's a critique of Darwinian natural selection on "philosophic" grounds.

I will stultify one of the main arguments for brevity's sake: "How can we reasonably talk about evolution as a goal oriented process when we have admitted already that speaking of Final Causes is illegitimate?" Massimo and Fodor do not use the Aristotilean terms, (instead they talk of Gould's spandrels) but that's what they mean.

Evolution would only have been "scientific" in Medieval Europe

Darwinian natural selection is actually a kind of cheat idea for materialism. In order to understand how humans have arisen from common descent with other animals, we want to have a narrative of why we speak, why we are bipedal, why our bodies are mostly hairless, etc. etc. Natural selection offers an answer without reference to a conscious incremental designer (God), but it smuggles back in the Final Cause: "This evolved to do that."

But if we actually limit ourself from talking in purpose-driven/Final-Cause statements, the most communicative "scientific" thing we can say is "Humans share a common ancestor with other animals, but we became different." The issue of "Why" is dreaded "metaphysics." In truth, we actually need a Final Cause to understand anything. The Final Cause, as Aristotle notes, is really the most important cause, because understanding it is key to understanding something in its greater context. Understanding something intuitively largely ammounts to knowing its Final Cause. Darwinism came to be accepted as a theory because it cleverly smuggled in illegal metaphysics that we were having withdrawal symptoms for. When you really think about it, this totally withdraws Darwinian selection from the ledger of supposedly scientific topics if you took such standards seriously (I don't).

The funny thing is that people can easily be made to become hyper-material anti-metaphysicians or lax on everything depending on circumstances. Fodor and Massimo partially wrote their book as a critic of "adaptationism" and evolutionary psychology, which were and still are bugaboos to the political left because they seek to explain minutiae of human social life, including hot-button issues like gender differences and race, in the light of Darwinian natural selection. Leftists like Gould and Lewontin would dismiss such explanations as "just-so stories," as would science-popularizers and the press, but Fodor and Massimo argue that this is an argument you cannot avoid generalizing once you make it. It applies to all of evolution: if it is philosophically illegitimate to talk about human sexual dimorphism because that reads a Final Causes into evolution, then it is equally illegitimate to talk about any other kind of change as being purpose driven by "selection."

This books was received with mostly hostile confusion by the mainstream press and I suspect most biologists which mostly missed the argument and were languishing in the culture wars of the Bush Years. Mind you, I don't agree with the book, but it's mostly because I don't care to endorse this kind of materialism, but most people do indeed at least claim to abide by it, so these arguments would be important to address for them.

Just a "linguistic" argument?

At the end of it, any evolutionary biologist will be tempted to throw up their hands and say "So what!" to that philosophical objection. After all, it sure feels like some kind of technicality or argument from the way we linguistically talk about evolution. And they're right! In truth, Darwinian evolution is a useful theory specifically because it is a method of giving us a Final Cause for gradual evolutionary changes. That's the whole point afterall. If it didn't give us a Final Cause, it wouldn't be an explanation. Striking the Formal Cause from scientific vocabulary is only a recipe for the typical postivistic science status quo of denying any "metaphysics" to your science while just tacitly assuming it all.

Return of the Formal Cause?

What about the Formal Cause? That is, what about the idea that everything must have a form/plan behind its creation? If we are willing to concede that a Final Cause can arrise from natural selection, what about a Formal Cause?

While I'm on Fodor and Massimo's book (who again, are not talking in Aristotelean terms themselves), they actually do end up resucitating the Formal Cause as well, albeit in a more purposeful way. While the book beats around the bush, I can say that in my conversations with Massimo at Arizona, he really does think of evolution as not being an issue of natural selection. Instead he (and Noam Chomsky as well) has the view that complex features in biology evolve from in-built genetic parameters whose complex interactions can also produce fully-formed design. This is the kernel of Minimalism in linguistics.

Now in presentations, Massimo always loves to talk about those species of jellyfish which with a single simple genetic change, develop highly complicated proto-eyes even without a direct need. One minor genetic development can produce structure as complicated as a primitive eye. This is not uncommon in biology because many complex structures are simple derivatives of simple principles. The general name for this is emergent properties and are said to be based on so-called Laws of Form.

Laws of Form are actually a big topic of conversation in linguistics nowadays, Chomsky's idea approaching the idea that one single and very simple cognitive change could be enough to produce the human language faculty. (This is totally contrary to the pop-idea of language abilities slowly arising from behavioristic cave-man grunting complexifying over centuries).

It should be obvious that Laws of Form, Fibonacci spirals, golden ratios, apparent ordering and other emergent properties arise naturally from the universe without the obvious need of conscious planning. This is not a rejection of the Formal Cause, but states the truth that it is universal. "Form" needn't just be a conscious plan like the sculptor's plan for a hunk of marble, but a form that emerges from natural principles.

Even a Materialistic Universe Generates Formal and Final Causes

In trying to escape the Formal and Final Causes, modern science has really made them more irreplaceable. Laws of Form emerge from very simple computational operations and define the formal structure of things that arise in nature. At the same time, any kind of selective pressure or survival mechanism like Darwinian selection will naturally produce structure arranged to a goal. Understanding anything is quite impossible without referring to its Formal and Final Causes.

For the Aristotelian up until Newton (the last of the magicians in J.M. Keynes' terms), this is us uncovering the Mind of God. While words like "God" make moderns queasy, it's legitimate to ask why the Formal and Final Causes as concepts should. Final Causes are by definition universal where unchecked spontaneity occurs. A conscious human mind is not a prerequisite for them, neither for Formal Causes.

You actually can keep even a very clumsy materialism while accepting these traditional notions. Indeed, to understand something's Final and Formal Causes is to truly understand it such that the Material and Efficient Causes seem like mere details.


41/56 - Hating Brave is Cool!

I like and use the Brave Browser.It's a free and open source browser with features like:

  1. Ad-blocking by default.
  2. Tracker-blocking by default.
  3. Anti-fingerprinting mechanisms to prevent you from being monitored.
  4. Built-in Tor windows.
  5. Run by a based Christian and not furry leftists.

As far as I'm concerned, Brave is indisputably the best general-purpose browser out there.There are other okay browsers, and I'll mention things about Brave I don't like, but Brave is especially good because it comes with all of these sensible features out of the box (you don't have to go install an ad-blocker), so this makes it very good for installing it on your grandma's computer.The anti-fingerprinting abilities are even unique among power-user browsers.

Despite that, there is a loud clique of anti-Brave agitators and Brave skeptics.Whenever I do a video on Brave, I can expect at least 20% dislikes and a torrent of comments from people with anime avatars calling me a "shill" for recommending this browser.

This, I suspect, is because Brave has an optional extra feature: Brave Rewards, which is "too good to be true."

Brave Rewards

By default, Brave blocks all ads, but users can turn on "Brave Rewards" to voluntarily view occasional ads and will receive a small amount of Basic Attention Token (BAT), Brave's cryptocurrency.The ads don't mess up webpages by appearing in them, but appear in their computer's notification system.

Brave's entire motivation is to replace traditional ads that fill up webpages with these kind of ads that share revenue directly with the web page owners and the people browsing the sites themselves.Ad companies disappear, the internet debloats and users and actual sites get a direct cut.

The Archetypical Brainlet Brave Skeptic

The fact that brave has exploded on the scene so quickly make me suspicious. There's money involved somewhere.
—Comment on a YouTube video of mine

Yes.Because Brave users literally get money to browse with it.Duh.

So there is no conspiracy theory about this.Brave just does everything right as a browser and they give you free money.In the Basic Attention Token system, companies buy ads and the revenue is shared directly by the owners of sites and the people who view the ads.This cuts out the middleman ad-companies from the internet.It removes and disincentivizes bloat in webpages.This is a drastically more effective and bloatfree way to monetize the internet than old-school ads.Or, you can just keep the default functionality where there are no ads.

I literally have people post on my videos constantly about how Brave is a big scheme and "you'll never see a cent of that money."Meanwhile, literally every Brave user, including me, gets a monthly payout.You can even receive your payout directly in US dollars if you want!Even if the Basic Attention Token framework totally flops, it's not like you're putting any money into it.The worst that can happen is you saying, "Oh no, all I have left is the browser with the best out-of-the-box functionality!"

It reminds me of the joke of two economists walking down the street.One says, "Hey look, there's a $100 bill on the sidewalk!"The other one replies, "That's not possible, if there were, someone would've picked it up already."

The anti-Brave crowd's argument is always some form of "it's too good to be true."In reality, you don't realize how inefficient and wasteful the previous way of internet ads was.Why pay an ad agency with employees to pay website developers to put ads into the actual code of websites, contorting it all into a mess?The BAT system and Brave just cuts out the middle man and keeps webpages clean by allowing ads to only be shown when wanted in the user's already existing notification system.The goal of the BAT project is to universalize Brave and perhaps similar browsers which block ads and trackers by default, thus cutting off the very lifeblood of that inefficient and anti-social system.

If you still don't trust the BAT project or think it's gimmicky, great.By default, the "Brave Rewards" system is off.Complaining about Brave because it has an optional feature to make money is like complaining about another browser because it has an add-on you don't plan on using.

Tactical Ignorance

I use to love brave. NOT anymore.. I'm sure that they are fingerprinting and using my browsing habits and even search queries and shows relevant ads. It is not like they are showing some random pop up for ads. I get ads for NordVPN if I search for best vpn 2020. I instantly get pop up for lenovo laptops as soon as I search for laptop. Obviously, with all the utm source and other tracking stuff. I am making around 15 BAT/month. I don't need those pennies. Back to Firefox with Ublock Origin and Privacy Badger.
—Comment on a YouTube video of mine

This guy is literally talking as if how Brave works is some kind of mystery, as if its entire code base isn't openly auditable.No, Brave doesn't take or "fingerprint" your browsing habits, instead, if you are enrolled in Brave Rewards, you browser pulls the entire list of adds from the system, then locally decides on your own computer what ads to serve.

On Brave's FAQ:

Only the browser, after HTTPS terminates and secure pages are decrypted, has all of your private data needed to analyze user intent. Our auditable open source browser code protects this intent data on the client device. Our server side has no access to this data in the clear, nor does it have decryption keys. We do not run a MitM proxy or VPN service. We provide signals to the browser to help it make good decisions about what preferences and intent signals to expose to maximize user, publisher and advertiser value. Each ad request is anonymous, and exposes only a small subset of the user’s preferences and intent signals to prevent “fingerprinting” the user by a possibly unique set of tags.

Is Brave bad for privacy?

A popularly linked Neocities site Spyware Watchdog ranks Brave as having a rank of "High" spyware.The information on the site is generally good, but a little context-less:if you compare their Brave article to their articles on other browsers, this bad ranking for Brave is utterly out of place.

Many people who read things and lack basic critical thinking skills wanted me to either admit or refute this page.Again, the website's information is good, but there is that same implicitly more skeptical standard held to Brave than other browsers.

As a point of comparison, take the browser Pale Moon.On their site, the Spyware Watchdog classifies Pale Moon as being "Top Tier" in privacy, while Brave is "Low Tier."But if you look at their own analysis, on nearly every point, Brave is superior to Pale Moon.

Brave's Flaws Pale Moon's Flaws
Trackers Brave blocks ads and trackers, but whitelists Facebook and Twitter to not break cross-site logins for normies. Users can still choose to block these sites in the settings menu. Pale Moon does not block any ads or trackers at all, so tough luck. Go find an extension that works well with it.
Forced incompatibility None Pale Moon ships with a blocklist of add-ons that the developers don't want you installing. This includes NoScript and Ad Nauseam.
Auto-updates Brave checks for updates on startup. (I'm not sure if this is the case on Linux too). There is no menu option to disable this but you can block connections to the update site in your hosts file. Pale Moon automatically checks for updates, add-on updates and changes to the add-on blocklist on start-up. In the about:config some of these can be disabled.
Analytics on the Start Page Brave connects to a free/open source Piwik service to get the number of ads/trackers blocked for the startpage. This can be disabled on the start page. Pale Moon connects to Google analytics on the start page. This can be disabled by changing the start page.
Other bad connections If ads are enabled, Brave makes connection to a site to get ads. It also checks a HTTPS ruleset on an Amazon server. Pale Moon makes a OCSP request for every website you connect to to verify their SSL with a third party. This can be turned off in the options.

On pretty much all of these points, when Brave is lacking, Pale Moon is much worse (that isn't to say that Pale Moon is a bad browser either).So it doesn't really make sense to me why Brave, which also comes with additional privacy features like fingerprint-blocking, should be classified as lower than Pale Meme.That site also claims that Brave uses the Google search engine as default.If that was ever true, it isn't now, or at least not on any version of Brave I've used.Brave asks the user on the first start up which search engine he would like to use as default.Google is among the choices though.

Note that in their articles they admit that Pale Moon has "auto-updates," but complain that Brave has "shitty auto-updates."Okay.I wonder what the difference is aside from personal emotion.In the last paragraph or so, they do mention, if not skirt around all the actual features of Brave:

and the fingerprinting protection I don't think is found in any other browser (but I didn't confirm if it actually works).

It does (of course it's an arms-race). But this is an acknowledgment that Brave is fighting on a level that no other browser is.While other honorable browsers like Ice Cat are committed to free software, Brave is also committed to an internet free from ads enmeshed in web pages and the people who simp for them.

Brave for normies

Aside from nit-picking different browsers, if you want to install a browser on a computer for a normie relative or friend, there is no debate that Brave is the best.Again, Brave is built with ad and tracker blocking.Browsers like Pale Moon or Firefox are bad browsers that can become okay browsers after you manually disable their junk features and download a bunch of add-ons, but Brave comes as it should be.Even Brave's token feature of viewing ads to get paid is not on by default.As it ships, Brave is just a good browser.

This is why I have Brave ship with LARBS:it's a pain to hosts a repository and edit browser settings via dotfiles, while I can just have Brave installed and that gives a passable, ad-free experience for users.

So if you want to make a normie's life easier, install Brave.They will be able to do everything they could do on Chrome, but now they have decreased their Google liability and no longer have to put up with ads.

Grasping at Straws...

Chromium based

When you corner an anti-Brave aggitant, they usually mumble something about how Brave is bad because it's "Chromium-based."I've never seen people use this argument about, say, qutebrowser or other minor Chromium-based browsers, but I think it's just become "that reason" for Brave.I honestly, really can't get worked up against a free and open source software project just because it's been spearheaded by Google.The ability to fork it always remains if the code goes south or if it does degenerate stuff.

I think it's especially absurd to place your trust in Mozilla FurryFox and their team of stereotypical SJWs and soydevs as a functioning alternative.Remember Mozilla spends its money developing fun add-ons like this to "protect" people emotionally from scary "conspiracy theories" and "alt-right content" on YouTube.I consider Google just as insane and dangerous, but not necessarily so much more insane so that I for some reason trust the judgment of Mozilla developers over Google ones.

EDIT: Here's another one from Mozilla FurryFox: "We need more than deplatforming"Moreso than Google, Mozilla's openly stated goal is an internet totally controlled by stereotypical dyed-hair SJWs with bad physiognomy.

What I mean by this is, sure, I'd like some browser with an independent engine.Pale Moon does sort of has that.That's cool.But that is not enough to make a difference for actual usage.Again, look at the list of benefits of Brave at the top of this article, all of those are hard to replicate or find in other browsers.I could go into it elsewhere, but there are a million little reasons why I don't use Pale Moon (but you might like it).

Affiliate links

Twitter users/Redditors went apoplectic several months ago when they realized Brave had included affiliate links to some sites whose names are filled in in the url bar.I have already written on this.It's literally nothing.As I say there, this is what affiliate links are for.I've never heard the same crowd through a fit that DuckDuckGo does exactly the same thing.You could even actually see the Brave affiliate links fill in, which is not the case when clicking on a DuckDuckGo affiliate site link.Still took these guys months to even notice...This is only something "controversial" to people who are trying their damnedest to find something to not like about Brave.

Actual good complaints about Brave and BAT

Since most visceral anti-Brave agitators just have a kind of general ax to grind,I want to take this time to voice my actually annoyances with Brave and the BAT project.I consider all of these ultimata: I only use Brave with the expectation that these issues will be fixed in the future.

Get rid of Uphold!

Actually, let me say that in <h1>...

Get rid of Uphold!

So you can get BAT from viewing ads, and people with websites and YouTube channels can receive donations, great.The annoying thing however is that you can't just get payouts to a random Ethereum wallet, instead, you have to use the company Uphold.This is probably because of legal issues and because I'm sure they have some financial arrangement, but the BAT project cannot be considered to be a universal and private solution if users are funneled into some site that requires a real-world identity.

Legally or technologically difficult to do otherwise? Maybe.But that is one of the goals of cryptocurrencies anyway and it should be met.Build the technology so that it's impossible to legally constrain.Most blockchain technology is already like that.

Users should just be able to give a public Ethereum/Token address and receive BAT there.That should be it.If you want to offer a normie-friendly partner service like Uphold, fine, but that should not be either the default or required.Uphold, I should say, is definitely not normie-friendly anyway.Since they did a redesign late September/early Ocotober, I admit I literally cannot figure the site out and how to transfer my BAT out efficiently.

I should say, in development Brave has had some suboptimal or non-private features in the past before better solutions were devised.I mentioned the fact that Brave pulls a non-personalized ad list, but that wasn't always the case to my understanding:when Brave was starting out, the browser did request specific ads, giving the central service some information about user browsing habits.So that at least indicates that Brave is open to reevaluating methods that are exploitable.

Let me state it again though, if the BAT system requires Uphold for basic functionality, it is not a serious long-term service.That's it.I only use and recommend the BAT system under the expectation that this is a temporary situation that they are actively seeking to remedy.If anti-Brave shills want to shill about something that actually matters, this should be it!

Auto-updates and integrations

I agree strongly with the argument from the Spyware Watchdog site above that Brave should not make any unsolicited requests to sites, especially auto-updates, and if it has a reason to, it should have some menu option to disable it.Any connections a browser makes in the background for these purposes or for analytics should be disabled by default too.

The Browser should be neutral and decentralized.

Somewhat related to the above, if Brave is actually serious about becoming the commonly used system not just for browsing, but for internet monetization, it has to be as neutral and decentralized as possible.Brave has added a lot of optional features for different services and other little annoyances.Obviously, you can immediately disable them, but if you want to have a personalizable and universal browsing experience, Brave should be absolutely blank when you pull it up on a fresh install.

General little features


42/56 - Livestream on PeerTube ONLY at 10AM New York time

As the title says, I'll be livestreaming today on PeerTube only at this link.

I'll talk about finishing my book reptinting project that you're going to want to know about and perhaps "recent events" (several weeks late) for example, on Richard Stallman.

I'll read donations I get if you want to talk about other things.

If you haven't already, subscribe to my PeerTube's RSS feed to get updates about new releases: https://videos.lukesmith.xyz/feeds/videos.xml?accountId=3. I don't think it adds livestreams until after they're done, but I will get in the habit of releasing a notification on this blog/RSS feed in prep for new streams.


43/56 - Bringing back blog system.

For the benefit of RSS users, I'm going to bring back the blog feature on my website, which is done with lb, a minor script I wrote a while ago.

This is where I'll be posting updates. Old blog entries, while not on the RSS feed still exist via their permalinks and can be accessed from lukesmith.xyz/blog.


44/56 - YouTube Channel Deletion (updated)

For info, I've added a list of the striked videos so you can see how innocuous they are.


45/56 - YouTube Channel Deletion

YouTube Channel Deletion

by Luke Smith


Google is prepping to delete my YouTube channel. As of today (March 26, 2021), I now cannot post for another two weeks. YouTube "strikes" which are functionally unappealable (automatically rejected) last for 3 months. If they give thee concurrent strikes, you channel is permanently deleted.

If YouTube Jannies delete my YouTube channel, remember that 100% of my videos are still easily viewable, including new videos I will make. You have no excuse to whine if all you know how to do is consoooming product on YouTube's walled garden:

I can and have already done livestreams on PeerTube. Expect those as well. LBRY/Odysee will probably have livestreams too soon.

"When you're banned from YouTube will you keep making videos?"

Yes, at Odysee and PeerTube. I will also probably actually bring back Not Related! for real this time because the first reason I made a podcast was to communicate with people using less bandwidth.

I suppose my only regret is not shilling RSS, webrings and other classical internet technology to free us from social media companies.

The "importance" of YouTube

YouTube ad revenue by itself is a nice thing to have, but it is not a huge loss if I lose it (less than minimum wagies make). Very few megachannels actually make decent money on it and frankly, it's a kind of bloodmoney if you ask me.

The only concern for me is that YouTube is still the vehicle by which people find out about me and use other stuff I offer and that can mean other sources of income for me.

While I try to push people into a decentralized internet, use RSS feeds, superior platforms like Odysee and PeerTube, and encourage them to have websites and the like, most people still passively use YouTube recommendations and curation.

How you can help.

Encourage YouTube followers to follow me in proper places.

If you have friends who watch my YouTube channel or know of people on other sites who do, make sure they:

Google is not going to be accidentally recommending new people to me after they ban me. That's your job.

Donate

You can donate to me even without having extra money by using my affiliate links.

If you do have spare money:



46/56 - Emergency: re: YouTube

Hi everyone.

YouTube has given an arbitrary strike to one of my videos. I am temporarily blocked and banned from posting on YouTube for a week.

I mentioned in a stream that I was planning to wean myself off YouTube as a platform in 2021, but now I might have to move faster, only three strikes means a permanent channel deletion. Considering how inconsistent and ambiguous YouTube's pretended rules are, I expect to wake up every day with those final strikes.

Frankly, YouTube shouldn't be in my life at all and I intend to remove it.

Firstly, you're already subscribed to this RSS feed, but be sure to encourage your friends to subscribe as well. This is a way of communicating directly to people.

Secondly, make sure that you follow my videos on on Odysee and my own website's PeerTube instance.

Thirdly, I don't ask you to "support the channel" in every video, so I will now, but you have to actually do it: I now have new donate page running on free software and independent of PayPal, YouTube and Patreon. Donate whatever you can there. You can do monthly donations (which I recommend for stability) or one-time donations: I plan on using this for "superchats" in livestreams now. You can also donate cryptocurrencies as well.

Fourthly, you need to make yourself more independent of these sites, I've talked about this in other videos. I have a whole playlist of how to start your own website, server, email, search engine, and everything else.

Fifthly, and lastly, I think, I want to be able to easily stream from my whole to an RMTP server, so I can stream to PeerTube, Odysee and possibily YouTube all at once. If anyone knows a good application for that, please make me aware of it. As it is right now, I only have Streamlabs' app that only allows you to stream to YouTube, but I'd like to stream to my own RMTP server that streams to all of those sites at once. (I need to figure all this out, so suggestions are welcome.)

By the way, check out https://based.cooking which is coming along. Thanks to everyone who has submitted!


47/56 - https://Based.Cooking (non-bloated, non-soydev recipes and more)

Well, I figured that it'd be best and I go ahead and start a recipe site, since it came up. I'll go ahead and tell you RSS chads. It's based.cooking (yes, apparently .cooking is a TLD nowadays).

The site isn't much of a looker now. Just simple CSS, so feel free to open PRs with elegant improvements. I don't have much time today, so I'll leave it to other people. I might record a video on the site this evening or tomorrow.

While a lot of people have sent in their own sites with one or two recipes, I'd figure it'd be best to consolidate them and this is what this site is for. Open a PR on the Github repository or on Gitlab to add as many reciples as you'd like. You can give yourself credit at the bottom of the page with personal links. Follow the example.md page. If you want to add images, only add actual images you took yourself of the actual exact recipes.

Read the README for more info. Site is generated with ssg5. Recipe files are mere markdown pages. The main page is subject to change as new recipes fill up the front. Feel free to add minor improvements to recipes I or other people will have added, I wrote the existing stuff pretty hurriedly.


48/56 - Livestream momentarily

On YouTube at this link: https://youtu.be/uYDfdeySis0


49/56 - We Want Our 4 Causes Back!

We Want Our 4 Causes Back!

Aristotle, in his Physics argued that there are four causes behind everything that exists. These causes answer the question of "How" or "Why" something is the way it is.

The Material Cause
The material from which something is made. E.g. the stone of a statue.
The Efficient Cause
The external force that causes something to be made. E.g. the artisan and his tools who make a statue.
The Formal Cause
The form or plan of the thing made that define it. E.g. the artisan's written or thought blueprints or sketch of plans for how to make the statue.
The Final Cause
The goal and reason of the thing. E.g. the purpose for which the artisan is making the statue.

If the statue lacks any one of the four causes, it will not be made.

The Demise of the Formal and Final Causes

If you want to point your finger at a single philosophical change that defines the shift from the Aristotelean worldview of antiquity and the Middle Ages to the materialism of modernity, it is the rejection of the Formal and Final Causes in the early Enlightenment.

Just ask your modern brain: "Does everything really have a purpose?" You will probably reflexively think back "No," therefore, you do not believe in a Final Cause to everything. The same is true of the Formal Cause, both of them seeming to assume that there is a kind of conscious agency behind the action. That isn't strictly speaking how Aristotle intended them, but that's how they are interpreted through modern goggles.

You can see their rejection as early as the 1600's: Francis Bacon in Novum Organum pushed aside the Final Cause as only being only suitable for inter-human behavior. The Formal Cause, he dismissed merely as desperata "hopeless." He actually dismissed the vocabulary of the other two causes as being superficial and an irrelevant distinction too, but philosophically, they are still retained in his philosophy by other terms.

In any case, modern people do not believe in Final and Formal Causes, or if they do, not for everything in the cosmos. For Aquinas and others in the Aristotelean world, the question of whether the universe has a purpose or a formal plan is a kind of tautology. Of course it does! Everything non-random does in Aristotelianism.

The Final Cause in Nature?

Now our post-materialist view of the Final Cause is sort of different from Aristotle's original view. We have to remember that Aristotle viewed grammar and cognition as something that in some way was directly reflective of reality itself. Compare this view shared with the so-called "Speculative Grammarians" of the Middle Ages, "speculative" coming from the Latin word speculum "mirror", since grammar reflects reality. This common strand stretches from Aristotle to those influenced by his work like Priscian and Bacon (Roger (who was based), not Francis (who was p. cringe)).

Nowadays we atomize questions like "Why" to the point that even causality itself doesn't mean anything and is a mere human cognitive convention, but for Aristotle, the linguistic existence of "Why" questions means that there is a legitimate logical equivalent to "Why" in reality.

Aristotle originally had argued that it is appropriate to refer to the Final Cause of something whenever it is not due to randomness or sponteneity. The example he uses is the growth of human teeth: there is no variance in where the molar and incissors grow within the human mouth. Everything appears where it's "supposed to" and we can assume that there is some kind of Final Cause behind this.

If different shapes and sizes teeth grew in different locations of the mouth, then it would be appropriate to talk of them as lacking a Final Cause. Things that appear randomly and inconsistently do not necessarily have Final Causes, but if something happens invariably, we can trust that it has a Final Cause.

Darwin "Got It Wrong" too?

So how far are moderns willing to take the rejection of the Formal and Final Causes?

One of my old Ph.D. advisors, Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini wrote a book with Jerry Fodor called What Darwin Got Wrong. You can withhold your kneejerk reactions; it's not a creationist book or anything, but it almost ended up being as controversial—it's a critique of Darwinian natural selection on "philosophic" grounds.

I will stultify one of the main arguments for brevity's sake: "How can we reasonably talk about evolution as a goal oriented process when we have admitted already that speaking of Final Causes is illegitimate?" Massimo and Fodor do not use the Aristotilean terms, (instead they talk of Gould's spandrels) but that's what they mean.

Evolution would only have been "scientific" in Medieval Europe

Darwinian natural selection is actually a kind of cheat idea for materialism. In order to understand how humans have arisen from common descent with other animals, we want to have a narrative of why we speak, why we are bipedal, why our bodies are mostly hairless, etc. etc. Natural selection offers an answer without reference to a conscious incremental designer (God), but it smuggles back in the Final Cause: "This evolved to do that."

But if we actually limit ourself from talking in purpose-driven/Final-Cause statements, the most communicative "scientific" thing we can say is "Humans share a common ancestor with other animals, but we became different." The issue of "Why" is dreaded "metaphysics." In truth, we actually need a Final Cause to understand anything. The Final Cause, as Aristotle notes, is really the most important cause, because understanding it is key to understanding something in its greater context. Understanding something intuitively largely ammounts to knowing its Final Cause. Darwinism came to be accepted as a theory because it cleverly smuggled in illegal metaphysics that we were having withdrawal symptoms for. When you really think about it, this totally withdraws Darwinian selection from the ledger of supposedly scientific topics if you took such standards seriously (I don't).

The funny thing is that people can easily be made to become hyper-material anti-metaphysicians or lax on everything depending on circumstances. Fodor and Massimo partially wrote their book as a critic of "adaptationism" and evolutionary psychology, which were and still are bugaboos to the political left because they seek to explain minutiae of human social life, including hot-button issues like gender differences and race, in the light of Darwinian natural selection. Leftists like Gould and Lewontin would dismiss such explanations as "just-so stories," as would science-popularizers and the press, but Fodor and Massimo argue that this is an argument you cannot avoid generalizing once you make it. It applies to all of evolution: if it is philosophically illegitimate to talk about human sexual dimorphism because that reads a Final Causes into evolution, then it is equally illegitimate to talk about any other kind of change as being purpose driven by "selection."

This books was received with mostly hostile confusion by the mainstream press and I suspect most biologists which mostly missed the argument and were languishing in the culture wars of the Bush Years. Mind you, I don't agree with the book, but it's mostly because I don't care to endorse this kind of materialism, but most people do indeed at least claim to abide by it, so these arguments would be important to address for them.

Just a "linguistic" argument?

At the end of it, any evolutionary biologist will be tempted to throw up their hands and say "So what!" to that philosophical objection. After all, it sure feels like some kind of technicality or argument from the way we linguistically talk about evolution. And they're right! In truth, Darwinian evolution is a useful theory specifically because it is a method of giving us a Final Cause for gradual evolutionary changes. That's the whole point afterall. If it didn't give us a Final Cause, it wouldn't be an explanation. Striking the Formal Cause from scientific vocabulary is only a recipe for the typical postivistic science status quo of denying any "metaphysics" to your science while just tacitly assuming it all.

Return of the Formal Cause?

What about the Formal Cause? That is, what about the idea that everything must have a form/plan behind its creation? If we are willing to concede that a Final Cause can arrise from natural selection, what about a Formal Cause?

While I'm on Fodor and Massimo's book (who again, are not talking in Aristotelean terms themselves), they actually do end up resucitating the Formal Cause as well, albeit in a more purposeful way. While the book beats around the bush, I can say that in my conversations with Massimo at Arizona, he really does think of evolution as not being an issue of natural selection. Instead he (and Noam Chomsky as well) has the view that complex features in biology evolve from in-built genetic parameters whose complex interactions can also produce fully-formed design. This is the kernel of Minimalism in linguistics.

Now in presentations, Massimo always loves to talk about those species of jellyfish which with a single simple genetic change, develop highly complicated proto-eyes even without a direct need. One minor genetic development can produce structure as complicated as a primitive eye. This is not uncommon in biology because many complex structures are simple derivatives of simple principles. The general name for this is emergent properties and are said to be based on so-called Laws of Form.

Laws of Form are actually a big topic of conversation in linguistics nowadays, Chomsky's idea approaching the idea that one single and very simple cognitive change could be enough to produce the human language faculty. (This is totally contrary to the pop-idea of language abilities slowly arising from behavioristic cave-man grunting complexifying over centuries).

It should be obvious that Laws of Form, Fibonacci spirals, golden ratios, apparent ordering and other emergent properties arise naturally from the universe without the obvious need of conscious planning. This is not a rejection of the Formal Cause, but states the truth that it is universal. "Form" needn't just be a conscious plan like the sculptor's plan for a hunk of marble, but a form that emerges from natural principles.

Even a Materialistic Universe Generates Formal and Final Causes

In trying to escape the Formal and Final Causes, modern science has really made them more irreplaceable. Laws of Form emerge from very simple computational operations and define the formal structure of things that arise in nature. At the same time, any kind of selective pressure or survival mechanism like Darwinian selection will naturally produce structure arranged to a goal. Understanding anything is quite impossible without referring to its Formal and Final Causes.

For the Aristotelian up until Newton (the last of the magicians in J.M. Keynes' terms), this is us uncovering the Mind of God. While words like "God" make moderns queasy, it's legitimate to ask why the Formal and Final Causes as concepts should. Final Causes are by definition universal where unchecked spontaneity occurs. A conscious human mind is not a prerequisite for them, neither for Formal Causes.

You actually can keep even a very clumsily materialism while accepting these traditional notions. Indeed, to understand something's Final and Formal Causes is to truly understand it such that the Material and Efficient Causes seem like mere details.


50/56 - Wanna learn LaTeX?

Wanna learn LaTeX?

What is LaTeX?

Basically, it's how big boys write and format documents. Every public brief, scientific article, book, cryptocurrency whitepaper or even outline written by people who know what they're doing is written in LaTeX.

If you want to see examples of documents made with LaTeX, you can see my Master's thesis here or another paper here that shows some diagrams and other features you can have in LaTeX. Of course, LaTeX documents can be infinitely customized.

Writing

"Is it hard?"

No. It's sort of like learing vim. People complain about how hard it is until they take the bare minimum of time to learn it and realize how much more effective they are with it. The return on investment is massive. I wrote the thesis above in LaTeX in around a week of learning from the bare minimum.

"How is LaTeX different?"

LaTeX is a markup language, meaning that you write documents in whatever text editor of your choosing and instead of manually moving margins and placing things yourself, everything is optimally places when you compile the document into a .pdf.

Markup languages are great because they separate the task of writing from the task of formatting. It's somewhat similar to the difference between HTML (a markup language) and CSS (which does styling) and Javascript (which does scripting). LaTeX does the equivalent of all three, but it allows you to do them all separately so you can easily extend documents.

"Why is LaTeX better than Microsoft Word and friends?"

"But Word has some of those things!"

Niche features that basically no Word-user uses. Also they change with every new update. This is the primary operating structure of LaTeX.

Installing LaTeX

The core LaTeX package (texlive) is fairly small, but I highly recommend you download all the LaTeX packages out there at the beginning (a big download). This is nice because as you learn more things, you won't have to manually download new packages. You'll be able to experiment with new LaTeX abilities through new packages seamlessly. Here's how you get them:

Once you've downloaded and installed that, you have a fully-featured LaTeX engine on your machine! You can make lots of amazing things that you don't even fullt realize yet.

LaTeX Video Tutorials

Basics

First thing to learn is how to compile documents with pdflatex and the basic principles of the TeX lanugage. In this first video, I talk about how basic text, paragraphs, titles, headings and more work. This in itself is enough to make a professional write-up.

Click to Reveal Video.

Numbering and cross-referencing

As you make more complex documents, you'll want to automatically number and interrelate section, figure and other numbers together. LaTeX makes this super simple, and make it even easier to copy your file into a new file where it will automatically update all cross-referenced numbers.

Click to Reveal Video.

Bibliographies with Biber and BibLaTeX

Bibliography management is a huge plus in LaTeX through biber. I haven't written a bibliography in more than half a decade due to the fact that LaTeX only needs a bibliography file of metadata and autogenerates citations for any needed source.

Click to Reveal Video.

Images and Figures

TeX isn't all text either. You can insert and nicely format images in a way that they are optimally placed without too much human interference.

Click to Reveal Video.

Macros to make things easy

As you do more specific things, you might want to make your own macros and functions. This really makes things easier, and you can do very complex things very elegantly.

Click to Reveal Video.

Slide Presentations with Beamer

LaTeX isn't just for printable documents either. You can change your document into a Beamer presentation, allowing you to present it as a slide show similar to Microsoft PowerPoint's.

Click to Reveal Video.

Making a Professional Résumé

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

Part 1

Click to Reveal Video.

Part 2

Click to Reveal Video.


51/56 - Veganism is the Pinnacle of Bugmanism

"Veganism is the Pinnacle of Bugmanism"


by Luke Smith

People have quoted me as saying that. I forget where it comes from, probably a livestream, but I definitely stand by it. Since a lot of people labor under the assumption that my channel is about "Linux," I've accumulated a lot of subscribers that are variously nerds, furries, degenerates, coomers, libertarians, communists, trannies and among them are vegans. Some of them (I assume) are good people.

There's a stereotype about vegans that they are annoying and can't talk about anything but Veganism. This hurtful stereotype comes from the fact that it's true.

Grill

Bugmanism

Firstly, what is Bugmanism? How do Vegans fit the bill?

Long story short, a bugman is someone who rejects the purpose and role of humans in their natural environment. They reject tradition, religion, their family, gender roles, the expectation that a person should contribute to their community, etc. They might do this for their personal convenience (usually they just wanna coom outside of marriage) or for apparently rational reasons, but the effect is the same.

If you want to sum up the esoterically evil goals of "modernism" or whatever you want to call it, it is destroying the countervailing power of tradition and in its place, new social engineers attempt to dictate human values top down. If you separate people from their families, their races, their traditions and who they actually are, you can engineer TV shows, sports teams, activist movements and a million other things for them to identify with and worship. Modernism pretends to liberate people from arbitrary traditions and authorities, when in reality is substitutes natural, emergent morals with controlled authorities.

Veganism has always been one of the most radical examples of this logic. Esoterically, Veganism forces one to abandon not just their own traditions, but every human dietary tradition and leaves them at the whims of processed grains and pharmaceutical supplements for a meager survival.

That is, Veganism is highly disruptive: You can't have a normal life. You can't have a normal meal. You can't wine and dine with people and must make it an affair. You can't use traditional hand-made leather products. You can't hunt or trap for food or raise animals, even for eggs.

You become a nag at war with your family, the world around you. You are trapped within urbanite bugman society: you can't even eat in most non-urban places or foreign countries because the insane concept of not cooking with animal fats and eating and using animal products just doesn't exist. You have to survive holding your breath from one hipster downtown area to the next.

On every point, you become more reliant on macro-society. Vegans try very hard to give off "organic" vibes, but it's just a lie. Even people on the internet who "advertise" their Vegan lifestyle spend hours processing a basic meal and of course predigesting indigestible plant matter with a blender. Try and find a non-urbanite Vegan in real life. They exist, but they are an aberration.

The LARP of "Vegan for Health"

Vegans sometimes pretend to advertise Veganism because it's allegedly healthy. This is just public relations; any true Vegan, when you really pin them down thinks that Veganism at its core is a moralistic belief. Vegans are Vegans because they believe that not being Vegan is morally deficient: killing/eating animals and using their bodies is bad. That's it.

So you have your moral principle and run with it. What magical force then is making that moral principle necessarily good for your health? If Veganism were actually a good diet for humans, that would actually be a massive coincidence. "Vegans for health" have to grapple with the bizarre claim that meat, exactly the food that has been viewed in all human cultures as superior and more desirable is somehow nutritionally deficient.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is Plant-based.

The weirdest thing is when Veganism is held in opposition to the Standard American Diet, as if the American diet somehow represents traditional or non-Vegan diets. The SAD is just Vegan-lite. SAD is a post-Vegan invention of the diet industry take over the past decades has been leading people into the most harmful parts of vegan diets: unstable plant-oils, processed grains as meat substitutes, etc.

The pop-cultural idea of "health" is simply "being skinny." Veganism is great at making people skinny because it is slow moving starvation (I have met some carbo-loading exceptions who fatten up).

Veganism is just to starvation what waterboarding is to drowning. If you stick with it, you will eventually die, but it's so painful in the meantime, you'll probably give up.

Veganism is rational.

Vegans are exceptionally "rational" in that they adopt the moral framework of modern society and follow it to its logical conclusion.

When you're given for your acceptance some inane religious platitudes like "equality" and "rights" along with vaguely Marxist notions of "exploitation" and "slavery" and "oppressed classes," it seems perfectly reasonable to expand that language to the relationship between predators (humans) and their prey (many animals) (or maybe pets too).

If you're raised in a time of extreme moral nihilism except for not liking the several historical events you're told that matter (usually slavery and the Holocaust), obviously you're going to glom on to what looks most like them: chickens in chains and sheep being led to slaughter like sheep to slaughter.

Honestly, Veganism by their own logic might not be far enough. There is some circumstantial research to the effect that plants have nervous systems that might feel pain as well: you could go one step further and simply eat nothing living. The Ctistae of ancient Thrace refused to eat anything alive, eating only by-products/foodstuffs like milk and honey. The Ctistae also refused to have sex, which might be something to consider since Vegans eventually lose sexual function anyway.

Veganism is rebellious.

Veganism has the same kind of "rebellion" that all other forms of leftism share. It "rebels" against the system by perfectly internalizing the system's values, extrapolating them to their logical conclusions and thus fighting the system when it fails to meet those obviously unworkable conclusions.

Corporations started shilling vegetable oils (which originally were and frankly still are just industrial by-products) as workable replacements for butter and lard. Seventh-Day Adventists lobbied for them because of their own religion beliefs. Jews lobbied for them because they hate unkosher lard. Years later, now we know that vegetable oils are highly unstable and have contributed to the massive rise in heart disease.

Veganism is a leftist phenomenon. The psychological type of a leftist is such that they will always subordinate their direct experience to ideology. It doesn't matter if not eating meat or wearing leather or using animal products sounds hard, their suffering is more proof of a greater moral superiority.

Non-leftists can simply not become Vegans for longer than extremely brief periods. Even if a Vegan wins an argument with them, a normal person is just going to say, "I'm sorry, I like animals and all, but I can't not eat them, that's just crazy."

Veganism only makes sense in a bugman environment.

Ask a vegan why he doesn't eat eggs. He will probably tell you a spooky story about how terrible it must be for a chicken to live in a coop laying eggs all day. That might even bring a tear to a sentimental persons eye.

Out where I live, people have their chickens wandering in their yards and garden pecking scraps. They return to their coops at night to be safe from coyotes. Is there really something "unethical" in the mind of a Vegan about picking up an unfertilized egg lain by one of these chickens and eating it?

A lot of the moral logic behind Veganism falls flat outside of bugman capitalism. Fundamentally, it's another manifestation of general angst from lack of connection to the real natural world.

I say this because most Vegans are Vegans because they are softies who have literally no connection to animals whatsoever until as a teenager they watched a PETA documentary with chickens getting their heads buzzed off or pigs walking around in their own poop.

Literally think about the animals. When wild animals die in nature, they don't slowly slip away in the night surrounded by their family. They die of starvation, or by being ripped apart alive by packs of coyotes. Would you rather die by getting your brains blown out instantaneously or die a "natural" death like this?

But to the original question, it really makes no sense even for a Vegan to not eat or distribute the eggs a chicken lays... You're going to have to get deep into Marxist analysis to think that's somehow unethical. And once a chicken has living a long life of egg laying, why not quickly and painlessly dislocate its neck and eat it for dinner? If you don't, your cat will eventually gore it and it'll be a mess.

Chicken food

Animals live to be eaten.

This isn't even a metaphysical claim. Domesticated cows and pigs and chickens do not and cannot live as they exist in the wild. They have evolved symbiotically with us as sources of food. They can go feral and breed with wild boar and the like, but their composition is based on their domesticated state.

Wild game like deer have lived alongside human hunters for centuries. Their breeding habits and evolutionary development is based in the fact that a sizeable portion of their population will be hunted by humans every season.

If you actually care about "the environment" (1) you would care for humans, whose natural diet is meat and (2) you would be terribly worried about the unintended consequences of severing one of the most important links in the food chain.

Dumb Vegan sayings

"You wouldn't kill it yourself!"

They say this whenever someone turns their eyes away from an animal being killed in one of their Vegan propaganda videos.

Guess what, I also might turn away if I see a video of a sanitation worker wading through human feces it in a sewer. That doesn't mean that I'm a hypocrite for taking dumps in a toilet connected to city sewage.

I turn away when I see depictions of amputations of gangrenous limbs in movies too. That doesn't mean I don't think it's not medically necessary.

Killing animals is actually a bad example of this because while all cultures are disgusted by feces and amputations, in most times and places (including this country before Bambi), killing animals was nothing any self-respecting grown man would react to. It goes without saying that there are many countries where people still recreationally torture dogs and cats.

I don't say that to say that I'd be okay with killing dogs and cats, merely that the trained moral responses we have for them are very localized and subjective in our own modernist viewpoint. But Millenials have now been raised in a Disney fantasy-land where animals think and talk like us and therefore must share the same feelings. Vegans absurdly "imagine what it'd be like" to live in industrial farming as if a chicken's birdbrain is having an existential crisis while living in a cage.

"Veganism is minimal or more self-sufficient."

Vegans have been fruitlessly trying to meme this one on me for forever. Starvation and death is minimal, I suppose, so it is at least true in that sense. Veganism is ultimately the diet of only eating inedible garnish that looks "good" on Instagram.

Raising most animals is easier and more efficient than raising vegetables. If it's too hot, potatoes don't naturally know to go move to the shade. Yams don't eat your overgrown grass. Onions don't poop out fertilizer. Tomatoes can't pull a simple tractor. You can't skin dead okra and make leather out of it. You can't grind up old mustard to make bonemeal (that's not just something in Minecraft, by the way).

Animals are an absolutely necessary portion of any homestead in life and death. Listen, I like growing stuff. I like growing vegetables. But vegetables are just not real food... They are garnish. They are sides. They are only enjoyable insofar as they elevate your enjoyment of real food: meat.

"Veganism is more efficient or environmental."

People say that eating plants is more "efficient" because they saw an energy pyramid diagram as a kid, which shows how many prey animals are needed to maintain carnivorous animals. If we actually lived in a place where there was a calorie shortage, like a desert planet where greens couldn't grow, that might be an issue. It frankly just isn't here. We're not exactly running out of grass to feed cows. Most people are mowing their grass and throwing it away.

There are people who make really absurd environmentalist arguments against meat as well, for example, methane from cows warms the globe. Okay. Fine. So what does Veganism do about that? Are Vegans going to kill the cows for us? Should we just let them starve in the woods since we can't harvest them for meat or even milk? What about all the game we won't be hunting? Those 50% of deer annually that we won't be killing—won't they me causing pollution with the huge amount of calories they need to frolic in the woods all days? Same will all other game. Most of those arguments are cute just-so stories and they fall apart after examination. Anyone can play that game.

Let's just laugh at this for a minute...

Alright class, look at this commonly posted vegan meme and tell me why it's retarded:

Vegan protein

"Per 100 calories" shows a deception so insane you should laugh. Whoever made this image wants you to believe that the piece of steak on the fork is equivalent to the tiny broccoli head on the right.

You can compare the nutrition of both broccoli and beef at those links yourself.

In order to get the protein in a single large bite of steak, you'll have to eat more than half a pound of broccoli. Good luck. Now you know why those poor impressionable girls who go vegan bloat up. And that's only 100 calories. 2000 calorie diet? Have fun. If you're famished, it's pretty easy to eat a big steak with 2000 calories (around a pound and a half of matter) and it will fill you up without any bloating or stomach pains. You'd have to eat twelve pounds more or less of broccoli or equivalent greens for that. And with all that fiber, you're going to just be pooping it all out.

Honestly, the human disgust response will stop you way before that. It's easy to eat a juicy steak without or without sauce, salt and pepper, but you'd nearly have to put a gun to someone's head to make them eat their daily 13 pounds of indigestible garnish.

Noootruits don't actually matter anyway

"Plants don't have over fifteen micro-nooootrients..."
sv3rige, at the end of every video

A lot of Vegan autism gets focused on replicating the consumption of known nutrients and minerals using only plants. The image above, in addition to being deceptive is based on a flawed idea that human nutruition is about consuming particular amounts of particular substances as if we are a perfectly predictable machine or a videogame. This isn't just a Vegan problem, basically everyone implicitly has this idea.

The reality is that those nutrients on the Nutrition Facts are a narrow realm of what might actually be relevant for the complex organ of our bodies. Additionally, there are many types of proteins and vitamins and minerals that the back-of-the-box doesn't account for. The Vegan game of saying, "we can get that too" is utterly pointless when you realize we have nowhere close to a full idea of how the human body works, only some plausible theories about the relationships between certain nutrients and what they seem to do. As in the case of some nutrients, like the falsely-maligned cholesterol is a good example of something two generations of people were told to fear and reduce only for us to later realize that our ideas about how it interacted in the body were arguably literally backwards.



52/56 - Wallpaper gray on LARBS?

If after a recent update, xwallpaper isn't setting your wallpaper on boot in LARBS, it's because xwallpaper is giving an error with the recent version of glibc.

There's already an issue up about this on the xwallpaper Github and hopefully it will be fixed soon. Out of my control.

You can spend a little time learning alternate ways to set wallpapers in the meantime, or learn to love gray.


53/56 - Why it's bad to have a high GDP

Why it's bad to have a high GDP

by Luke Smith, originally a blog post in November 2018, rewritten for this website.

To put it in other words...

The common way of looking at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is that it's a metric of economic success: more GDP is more wealth. Wealth is good. "Poverty" (meaning low per capita GDP) is bad. Nowadays, pretty much everyone talks about "economics" like this as if this truism was scribbled on the back walls of the cosmos.

This is just looking at one side of the ledger in a kind of global double-entry accounting book. A logically equivalent way of looking at it is that GDP is a metric of economic exchange required for survival in society as it exists. You can say that some area "produced" $1 billion of output (sounds good), but you can just as easily say that $1 billion was required for that area to sustain itself (sounds bad). These two are simply logically equivalent.

Living on $1 a day

Hyperborea
Antediluvian Hyperborea. GDP: $0 per year.

Let's dive into the Gestalt: when you hear that a family of eight lives on less than a dollar per day (PPP adjusted), you might wonder how they manage! To actually do such a thing would require buying large bags of rice for the whole family, eat only that and live in free cardboard boxes.

The reality is that that often uttered phrase means that they use less than $1 a day in the general economy, while the rest of their livelihood is "off-the-grid" or self-sufficient. They may grow food in a family farm, hunt for food, and most of their daily needs from cooking oils, to plates, to pottery, to soap are often made at home as well.

There is still "an economy" but often one that is barter based or socialist in the real pre-socialist sense of the word: mediated by direct face-to-face social tit-for-tat between neighbors and friends, none of this mediated by currency being exchanged, thus it is not part of the GDP.

If you read about some Bangladeshi village where the only product is "textiles", that doesn't mean that everyone there makes textiles all day and, without a textile company, everyone would've starved to death. It means that the only on-paper, measurable global industry practiced there is textile manufacturing. Other villagers might farm, hunt, even do some kind of gathering in some places. They will produce the arts and crafts and live the way people live when you leave them alone. If your view of the world is mediated by GDP, you're only seeing the extremely small sliver that pops into existence when people exchange something involving legal tender.

This is extremely difficult for us modern bugpeople to understand because to be a bugman in a large city is to produce absolutely nothing on one's own and buy literally everything you need from the store. To us non-productive people, GDP means income which means survival. But the further out of Bugmanville you go, the clearer the vacuousness of GDP becomes. When you realize that most of human wealth is unmeasured by GDP, you realize that Whig History and Steven Pinkerism is based on shaky foundations.

Example

A minor example. We had a large Thanksgiving feast near my uncle's house in very rural Florida. As it got cold in the night, we had a fire in a repurposed old sugar cane cooking vat artfully standing on used symmetrical cinderblock pieces. A bugman hipster might pay two hundred dollars or more for a similar looking "authentic" piece of equipment. Those $200 would be counted in the GDP. A bugman hipster might have also bought or rented chairs for the event, "contributing" more to the GDP, but my uncle, as part of the local wholesome church community, simply borrowed some from the church. Thus our event produced basically no GDP output in goods or services, despite being functionally equivalent to some similar but expensive and ergo "productive" "Friendsgiving" practiced by urbanites. In reality we are richer than the bugmen hipsters who blew hundreds of dollars on a faux-folksy party. In this case, we owned the firepit and had easy access and permission to the chairs, thus we are more economically flexible than they are. That GDP that they produced/expended is evidence of deeper reliance on the economic system. That GDP output is a marker of fragility, reliance on the conditions of the outside economy in the same way that a village of Bangladeshis who abandon their traditional way of lives to work on textiles are more fragile, despite being able to save up for iPhones.

What GDP really measures

Most of the increase in GDP across the world is simply the movement from local partially-social partially-under-the-table economies to economies mediated by taxable currency. An economically self-sufficient village with close social relationships and a barter economy has 0 GDP. A township of entrepreneurs and artisans you partially barter and partially use currency which they don't report has 0 GDP. All of these people are "in poverty" and "earn less than a dollar a day". And if you want to be truly self-sufficient, that means having a personal GDP of zero.

More than that, pretty much everywhere, GDP is a strong indicator of social upheaval. If you think that GDP is some eternal goodness, remember that everything "good" about industrialization shows up in the GDP, while at the same time, everything bad about it will not show up. Or, sometimes bad things are registered as positive economic growth: urbanization has caused mass-disease, and if that means a market for new medical services and pharmaceuticals, great! The GDP just went up! The Ganges is polluted due to the textile plant? That just means more opportunities for local entrepreneurs to sell bottled water! The GDP just went up! Are people being pushed out of fishing or other subsistence occupations because of it? Even better! Now they have no choice but to contribute to the GDP! With every passing year, in fact, more and more of the GDP is produced by dealing with the problems that our higher level of GDP have caused.

At the end of the day, GDP is only a measurement of how reliant a place or country is on the global economy. Self-sufficiency has a GDP of 0. Wasteful consooomerism has an extremely large GDP.

Planned obsolescence

I have one of my great grandfather's early electric circular saws. It has a bunch of gunk in it, but it still works (although I recently took it apart to replace some old screws and springs and other little parts to be careful). They literally do not make circular saws like it; it's all metal, while even the fancy modern stuff is mostly plastic.

The "unfortunate" thing about it and other durable tools is that it's "bad for the economy," especially the GDP. Since that thing has been around since maybe the 50's or 60's, that's as long as 70 years the economy has gone without the "stimulation" of us having to buy another saw.

Viewers of my technology videos: Which would be better for the world, if everyone used the material equivalent of a classic American-made IBM ThinkPad, or some Apple Laptops that are unfixable computers made of mostly batteries designed to conk out right before the new version comes out? Regardless, the Apple Macs that cost thousands a piece are much better for the "economy."

That's what I mean. If you have quality tools and do not need to constantly throw money at the system to buy things, fix things and otherwise waste money, you are going to be having a lower GDP. That's just how it is.

The propagandistic role of GDP

When you don't think things through like this, GDP is supposed to appear as an objective measure of economic goodness. You're supposed to be looking at those GDP charts and saying, "Wow, my life might be terrible, I am not free, I am subject to forces out of my control, and I and told I have to participate in mass-consumerism to survive, but these charts are the facts[!], and the facts say that things are better now, so I believe them!"

It's legitimately surprising to me how big of a boon the idea of increasing GDP is for Whig history and NPCs of many different ideologies. People of the Left and Right will matter-of-factly tell me that a plastic based economy taking over the world is still good because the line is going up. I've heard it as a justification for everything:

Don't like globalization?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't trust state-funded institutionalized science?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want child drag queens?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want everything to be made of plastics and other petrochemicals?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want mass pornography?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.
Don't want free sugary drinks since infancy?
You're wrong, the GDP is going up.

When you abandon the illusion of GDP, you are suddenly able to ask whether massive technological "progress" has actually been good for real human life and human pychology.



54/56 - PeerTube v3 is now live with Live Streaming abilities

PeerTube has recently released version 3.0.0, which has added many things, including the ability to livestream. I've already updated by PeerTube instance to version 3 (it is linked from this RSS entry), but the link is just videos.lukesmith.xyz .

I'm not sure if I'll end up immediately using the livestream ability, but it is certainly nice to have a non-YouTube option which is, in fact, self-hosted.

Aside from that, I strong recommend you add my PeerTube instance to your RSS feed. Get the link here: https://videos.lukesmith.xyz/feeds/videos.xml?accountId=3 . This is what I view as my permanent and primary non-YouTube video store, and I occasionally post things not on YouTube here. In the future, I plan on using it and my main website to make an "interactive" archive of video/text as an independent and self-sustained site.


55/56 - Short Notice: Appearing on Millenniyule TONIGHT at 7PM New York Time

Sorry for the short notice, I've been busy for the holidays, but I've been asked to be interviewed on Millenniyule in less than two hours from when I'm posting this. I'm scheduled for 7PM to as late as 9PM New York time.

The livestream will be on this channel (i.e. not my own due to bandwidth issues).

If you miss it, you can get it at the bottom of this playlist when it's over.


56/56 - New website

Got a new simplified website. Real old school, no CSS sheet. I'm going to make it more text-based and have more writings.

I've also rolled over this RSS feed.

A lot of the site is still unfinished, so notify my of anything I've missed so far. I want to keep old links more or less in place. I haven't decided if I want to keep using my old blog script (this entry is RSS only). I feel like I had neglected the blog for a while, and my new site is more conducive to browsing as I add even more.


News

Hacker News

Items count = 30

1/30 - Kanidm: A simple, secure and fast identity management platform

Comments


2/30 - Wearable Microphone Jamming

Comments


3/30 - How to Safely Think in Systems

Comments


4/30 - Show HN: Add a command-line interface to any C++ program

Comments


5/30 - Cracking Random Number Generators Using Machine Learning

Comments


6/30 - Proposal to add constexpr to C [pdf]

Comments


7/30 - 1500 Archers on a 28.8: Network Programming in Age of Empires and Beyond (2001)

Comments


8/30 - Deepdive on USDT fraud: The GrantWilliams Podcast: BennettTomlin and GeorgeNoble

Comments


9/30 - Theory of Computation ocw course (Sipser)

Comments


10/30 - Some reasons to work on productivity and velocity

Comments


11/30 - Deeper Than Pixels: A Reading List on Video Games

Comments


12/30 - Redis Cluster Re-Implemented in Rust: Scaling Redis Easily in Kubernetes

Comments


13/30 - Writesonic (YC S21) Is Looking for Founding Fullstack Engineer

Comments


14/30 - Ask HN: What does one look for in a laptop these days?

Comments


15/30 - Minias – A mini x86-64 assembler for fun and learning

Comments


16/30 - Functional Algorithms, Verified

Comments


17/30 - NixOS and the Art of OS Configuration

Comments


18/30 - The first study of individualized brain stimulation to treat severe depression

Comments


19/30 - ADOP: Approximate Differentiable One-Pixel Point Rendering

Comments


20/30 - A viable solution for Python concurrency

Comments


21/30 - Ubuntu Frame; A secure, LTS display server for embedded displays [pdf]

Comments


22/30 - The Math Behind “Spot It”

Comments


23/30 - Warped Portraits of the 1930s

Comments


24/30 - Hunting down a C memory leak in a Go program

Comments


25/30 - Slowing Down, Yes, but to What?

Comments


26/30 - Explore the most detailed map of the universe – EPFL Longread

Comments


27/30 - DX-Ball

Comments


28/30 - Scaling Indexing and Search – Algolia New Search Architecture

Comments


29/30 - Louisville sawmill challenges perception about wages

Comments


30/30 - Review of the Buick Riviera’s ‘touchscreen’ from 1986 [video]

Comments